Former FDA Head Chastises WHO over Virus Origin

Feb. 22, 2021
WHO needs to stop giving credence to Chinese claims that the coronavirus originated with imported frozen food, a former FDA commissioner says.

The World Health Organization needs to stop giving credence to Chinese claims that the coronavirus originated outside China and was brought there on frozen food, a former FDA commissioner stated in an op-ed published Feb. 21.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who headed the FDA from 2017 to 2019, wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal addressing what he called the “implausible theory” that Chinese officials have been pushing: that the SARS-CoV-2 virus did not originate in Wuhan or anywhere else in China, but was imported in shipments of frozen seafood or other foods. China has engaged in elaborate testing of imported frozen food for months, to the point where imports have been slowed down. Some frozen food exporters have accused China of using virus testing as an excuse to throttle food imports.

World Health Organization officials this month visited Wuhan, where the first known human cases of COVID-19 occurred, to investigate the virus’ origins. A WHO investigator was quoted as saying it was “possible” that it originated in frozen food – a statement that Chinese state media have been playing up.

In the Journal article, Gottlieb notes that neither the FDA nor any other credible health organization supports the frozen-food hypothesis, and that nowhere outside China has a claim been made of COVID being transmitted by food or food packaging. He suggests that the WHO made its statement as a condition of getting access to China.

“By giving weight to the food theory, the WHO is making itself less credible, which is a pity,” Gottlieb wrote. He commended the Biden administration for rejecting the frozen-food theory “absent independent verification.”

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