Fmr. FDA director adds intrigue to Wuhan lab leak story

A former Food and Drug Administration commissioner under President Donald Trump has added more intrigue to a growing belief that COVID-19 escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, even as many in the media reevaluate their reporting which, for more than a year, has largely discounted the theory.

In an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Scott Gottlieb, who served in the post until April 2019, discussed his concerns about safety and security at research labs in the United States and abroad, adding that it is imperative to find out where the coronavirus escaped in order to ensure such pandemics don’t keep happening.

“These kinds of lab leaks happen all the time, actually,” Gottlieb told the program. “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.”

Members of the Trump administration including the former president himself, openly proffered at the beginning of the pandemic that it could have come from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China’s only Level Four bio-research facility. In a recent interview with Fox News, former Trump CIA director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reminded viewers that he, too, was an early proponent of the lab leak theory.

The left wanted to deny that it was possible that this is what had actually happened. They were adopting what was essentially Chinese communist party propaganda,” Pompeo said during a May 18 interview, noting that headlines in recent days have changed in major media to reflect a growing belief in the leak theory.

(Video: Fox News)

“The Chinese came out very hard — they wanted to make clear that this didn’t come from their laboratory. Indeed,  you’ll remember too, Dana,  they at one point pointed to the United States as the source of this virus. They were doing everything they could to cover up and to deflect. But the Chinese communist party was actively engaged in viral research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Pompeo continued, adding that while he doesn’t have direct proof, “every piece of evidence” points to a lab leak.

Last week in an interview with Newsmax TV’s Grant Stinchfield, Richard Grenell, a former acting director of national intelligence under Trump, dismissed claims that the previous administration did not have or share any evidence early on about a potential lab leak as being the cause of the pandemic.

“If you go back to April 30, 2020, there is a statement that was issued when I was acting director of national intelligence that the entire intelligence community agreed to, and that’s a very rare thing when you can get all of the agencies to sign off on every verb and every comma. But they did and they made three very critical points and, in that statement – it’s still up on the DNI website – we said China was responsible for COVID-19,” Grenell said.

“And the intelligence community 100 percent agreed across the board, that it either started in a Wuhan lab or in what we said animal to human transmission, which really means wet market,” he added.

”We were very clear but the game in Washington was they didn’t want to pick up on that statement, they didn’t publish it, they didn’t push it out like they should have because it would have given Donald Trump a win to define how COVID started, which was his clear statement that it started in China,” Grenell said.

However, media outlets that initially discounted the lab leak theory and even mocked Trump and his administration for suggesting it was possible are now actively reporting the theory in a more favorable light, even as they reexamine their own role in downplaying it.

“We should find out what happened,” ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl told his network on Sunday during a segment on “This Week.”

“This is one of the greatest crises our country has ever faced, and the world has ever faced. We need to know how it started. I think a lot of people have egg on their face. This was an idea that was first put forward by Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State of Donald Trump,” he went on adding: “Look, some things may be true even if Donald Trump said them.”

Jon Dougherty

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