Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration said in a Sunday interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" that the case for COVID-19 originating in a lab has become increasingly likely while the possibility that the virus came from an animal is dwindling.
The side of the ledger that suggests that this could have come out of a lab has continued to expand, and the side of the ledger that suggests this has come from of a zoonotic source, come out of nature, really hasn’t budged, and if anything you can argue that that side of the ledger has contracted. We’ve done an exhaustive search for this so-called intermediate host, the animal that could have been a host to this virus before it spread to human, [and] we have not found such an animal. We’ve also fully disproven the market, the food market that was originally implicated in the outbreak as the source of the outbreak, so that side of the ledger probably has shrunken.
Gottlieb, who was the FDA commissioner from 2017 to 2019 and is currently on Pfizer's board, said that China could release evidence that the coronavirus was not a result of a lab leak but they have not yet done so.
They could provide the blood samples from those who worked in the lab in Wuhan, they’ve refused to do that, they could provide the source strains, some of the original strains, they’ve refused to do that, they could provide access to some of the early samples that we can sequences, they can provide an inventory of what was in the lab [at] The Wuhan Institute of Virology, the lab that has been implicated in a potential lab leak, they have refused to do that.
He said that the lab leak theory now has increased credibility due to the lab not being properly controlled, "high-risk research" on SARS-like viruses being performed in the lab and reports released saying that workers in the Wuhan lab became infected with coronavirus-like symptoms in fall 2019. Three researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology suffered from "symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness" in November 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported.
It’s important to understand what the possibility is that this came out of a lab, so we can focus more international attention on trying to get better inventories about these labs, better security, make sure they’re properly built.
However, Gottlieb acknowledged that the origins of COVID-19 would not have an impact on how health experts tackle the virus, adding that "there’s nothing that we’re going to learn about the characteristics of the current virus by knowing its origin, quite frankly. We’ve had enough experience with this virus to fully understand it."