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Former FDA commissioner questions whether researchers should continue to publish sequences of novel viruses

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS News' Margaret Brennan during an interview that aired Sunday that he doesn't expect that the origins of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will become clear anytime soon, barring a discovery of an intermediary animal host or a whistleblower inside China coming forward with knowledge that the virus initially spread following a lab leak.

But even though Gottlieb thinks the debate over the two possibilities will continue, he does think it's important to eventually learn what happened. If there is ever evidence the virus incidentally escaped from a lab, Gottlieb said it will change "how we try to govern research internationally." That would likely mean enhanced security standards, but Gottlieb is also left wondering whether researchers should keep publishing "sequences of novel viruses" because "once you publish that sequence as part of normal scientific discourse ... you basically provide a recipe for anyone who's a rogue actor on how to manufacture that virus."

While Gottlieb is not accusing China of doing such a thing with the novel coronavirus, he has repeatedly argued that the United States and other governing bodies should approach pandemic prevention through a national security, rather than just a scientific or public health, lens.