Gottlieb: Lab leaks happen all the time

Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said on Sunday that lab leaks “happen all the time” while discussing the theory that COVID-19 may have emerged from a Chinese lab in the city of Wuhan.

“These kinds of lab leaks happen all the time, actually. 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 lab,” Gottlieb told host John Dickerson on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Top U.S. public health officials and experts are increasingly lending credibility to the need for an investigation to probe the origins of COVID-19, especially the possibility that it originated in a lab in Wuhan, after that theory was initially dismissed.

While scientists have not uncovered decisive evidence that the virus leaked from a lab, they also have not discovered definitive proof that the virus originated in animals before jumping to humans, which has prompted some officials to call for a deeper investigation.

Additionally, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that a number of researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick with flu-like symptoms and required hospitalization in November 2019, a month before the Chinese government said it discovered Wuhan’s first case of COVID-19.

President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE on Wednesday asked the U.S. intelligence community to "redouble" its efforts to determine a definitive conclusion regarding the disease’s origins in the next 90 days.

Biden vowed to publicly release the findings of the intelligence community’s review.

Gottlieb, who served as FDA commissioner under former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE, added that while the theory that COVID-19 originated from an animal "really hasn't budged," the argument that the disease could have emerged from a lab "has continued to expand."

Gottlieb made similar comments in an interview last week, adding that he does not think there will be a definitive answer to how COVID-19 originated. He said if the virus did originate in a lab, the truth will not emerge without a whistleblower.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to get to the bottom of this,” Gottlieb said. “Because unless we have a whistleblower — assuming it did come out of a lab, and I’m not saying it did, but assuming it did — unless we have a whistleblower or a regime change in China, you’re not going to truly find out.”