Dr. Chris Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said Sunday that uncovering the true origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus is key to helping identify potential gaps in safety protocols and reduce the risk of future pandemics.
Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Gottlieb warned that lab leaks—one of the theories as to the origin of the CCP virus—happen frequently and accurately pinpointing how the pathogen came to infect humans has important implications for safety measures that could prevent another outbreak.
“These kinds of lab leaks happen all the time, actually,” Gottlieb told the outlet. “Even here in the United States, we’ve had mishaps. And in China, the last six known outbreaks of SARS-1 have been out of labs, including the last known outbreak, which was a pretty extensive outbreak that China initially wouldn’t disclose that it came out of a lab,” he said.
Gottlieb said that the theory that the CCP virus leaked from a lab, rather than making a natural jump from animal to human, has been building steam.
“We’ve done an exhaustive search for the so-called intermediate host, the animal that could have been a host to this virus before it spread to humans. We have not found such an animal,” Gottlieb said, adding that the theory that the virus emerged at a food market in Wuhan, China, has also been “fully disproven.”
The case for the lab leak theory is further buoyed by circumstantial evidence, he said, pointing to known issues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), the facility at the heart of the controversy.
“We know that that lab was poorly constructed, had poor controls,” Gottlieb said. “We know the lab was engaging in very high-risk research, including infecting transgenic animals, animals with fully human immune systems.”
“We know they were working with SARS-like viruses that have never been disclosed before. And now we have new evidence that some lab workers became infected right at the time that this virus was believed to be first introduced,” he added.