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."

See more

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.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us