Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said on CBS today that investigations into the origins of Covid-19 need to be conducted through both a national security lens and a scientific lens.
He said the initial investigation was based on science and an analysis of viral sequences.
“What is lost in this is that there’s a broader mosaic here,” Gottlieb said. “We have other information now that fits into this picture. The science is one piece of information, but there’s a lot of other information that points in the direction that this could have come out of a lab, that we need to have a broader view about the potential risks that this was a lab leak.”
The scientific mindset, he said, looks at the virus, its behavior and its sequence and draws a conclusion.
“A national security assessment looks at that as one piece of evidence, but then looks at the behavior of the Chinese government, looks at the behavior of the lab, looks at other evidence around the lab, including the infections that we now know took place,” he said. “And that changes the overall assessment.”
Gottleib said some virologists are still just looking at the origin of Covid-19 through the lens of what the viral sequence looks like, even though that is just one part of the evidence. He said that’s partly why he thinks assessments need to be in the hands of national security investigators and not just the scientific community.
More than 300,000,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Saturday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC reported that 300,268,730 total doses have been administered; about 81% of the 371,520,975 doses delivered.
That’s about 1.1 million more doses reported since Friday, for a 7-day average of about 937,669 per day.
About 51.3% of the population — 170,272,150 people have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 41.6% of the population–138,112,702 people — have been fully vaccinated.
To note: Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported.
The United States will donate 750,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan as part of its plan to share vaccine doses globally, US Sen. Tammy Duckworth announced upon her arrival in Taipei on Sunday, Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported.
“It was critical to the United States that Taiwan be included in the first group to receive vaccines because we recognize your urgent need and we value this partnership,” Duckworth said at Taiwan’s Songshan Airport.
Duckworth, along with Sens. Dan Sullivan and Christopher Coons, arrived at the airport in Taipei on Sunday morning, CNA reported.
The senators’ visit is part of a larger visit to the Indo-Pacific region, according to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).
“The bipartisan congressional delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders to discuss US-Taiwan relations, regional security, and other significant issues of mutual interest,” the AIT said on Saturday, without giving more details.
India reported 114,460 coronavirus infections on Sunday, the lowest in 60 days, according to figures released by its health ministry.
The country has recorded a total of 28,809,339 Covid-19 cases to date. Sunday marks the tenth consecutive day that cases have dropped below 200,000 in the 24 hour reporting window.
India also reported 2,677 Covid-related deaths, bringing the death toll to 346,759 since the beginning of the pandemic.
After weeks of lockdown, India’s union territory of Delhi, which contains the nation’s capital New Delhi, announced Saturday that it will ease its Covid-19 restrictions starting from Monday.
“All the shops and malls are being opened on an odd-even policy and half of the shops will open on one day and the rest of them on the other day from 10 a.m. (local time) in the morning to 8 p.m. (local time) in the evening,” Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said. Metro trains will also operate with 50% capacity from Monday.
Kejriwal said his government is preparing for a third wave, and the number of beds, oxygen cylinders and medicines will be ramped up accordingly.
The US will distribute 25 million Covid vaccines as part of an initial tranche of the 80 million doses President Biden has pledged to share internationally, the State Department’s coordinator for global Covid-19 response and health security, Gayle Smith, said in a call with reporters Friday. She offered no timeline for the vaccines’ delivery.
The US will distribute 25% of that first tranche bilaterally, Smith said.
“It gives us greater flexibility and as we’ve seen there are a lot of pop-ups and flares in this pandemic and we want to be able to move vaccines on an urgent basis if needed,” Smith said. She added that the “current expectation” is that the vaccines would be produced by AstraZeneca.
The remaining 75% of the first tranche of US vaccines will go to COVAX, the international group focused on the global vaccine distribution, Smith said, and added that the Biden administration has “identified the countries we want these vaccines to go to.”
Roughly 6 million doses will be distributed across Latin America, including the Caribbean, 7 million will go to South and Southeast Asia, and 5 million to Africa, Smith said.
“This is the first round, this is just the beginning,” said Smith. She was not able to say when the 55 million doses that make up the total 80 million vaccines would be delivered.
Going forward, the Biden administration will pursue a three-part strategy to maximize vaccine supply by sharing doses, encouraging US manufacturers to increase vaccine production “by the last quarter, if not earlier, of this year, and well into next year,” Smith said. The administration will also work to improve global vaccine production by increasing production capacity “so there are more places in the world, manufacturing, and able to distribute vaccines,” Smith said.
“Our goal is to end the pandemic and maximize that as quickly as we can,” Smith said. “It’s in our interest to do this, our own health security is at risk… none of us is safe until all of us are safe.”