Ex-FDA Head Says Fauci Briefed World Leaders on the Possibility COVID Came From a Lab

Ralph Ellis

June 08, 2021

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Former Food and Drug Administration director Scott Gottlieb says Anthony Fauci talked to world leaders last spring about the possibility of the coronavirus coming from a lab in Wuhan, China.

Gottlieb, who directed the FDA from 2017 to 2019 during the Trump administration, made the comments about Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the Biden White House, Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Gottlieb said a "very senior official" in the Trump administration told him that Fauci attended a meeting in Europe of the World Health Assembly and briefed them "on the information that they were looking at, that this could have been a potential lab leak, that this strain looked unusual."

Gottlieb said that "I think early on when they looked at the strain, they had suspicions."

Fauci has said he thinks COVID-19 spread via animal to human transmission, but that he's not positive. He has not responded publicly to Gottlieb's comments.

What Fauci thought about COVID's origins has been open to discussion since The Washington Post and other news organizations obtained Fauci's public emails from last year under freedom of information requests.

Gottlieb told CBS News he didn't see "anything remarkable" in the emails. He said the back-and-forth between Fauci and other scientists showed an evolution of opinion about the origin of the virus, and that "their belief that this could have been an engineered strain started to subside" over time.

Last week, President Joe Biden ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus.

He said two possibilities are still on the table: the prominent theory that it was transmitted from an animal to humans outside of a lab, or that it was accidentally leaked from a lab.

He said the CIA and other intelligence agencies hadn't yet reached a consensus on the origins.

A spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, wouldn't say if China would release the records but rejected the "lab leak" theory.

Last week, in an interview with the Financial Times, Fauci called for China to release medical records of people who showed COVID-like symptoms before the virus was positively detected in Wuhan. Those records could help scientists determine whether COVID-19 came out of a lab, he said.


CBS News Transcript: Scott Gottlieb on "Face the Nation," June 6, 2021