The latest information is that nothing novel is spreading in China, so a travel ban from the country is unnecessary, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.
Five Republican senators sent a letter Friday to President Joe Biden urging him to ban travel between the U.S. and China in an effort to prevent a new "mystery illness" from spreading.
Gottlieb acknowledged Beijing should be more forthcoming to the World Health Organization concerning health issues in the country and that some of the original concerns were well-founded. But, he said, "I think right now we have more information about what is spreading in China. And it does appear to be more usual strains of illness. So there's no reason to believe that there's something novel spreading there."
When asked how can the U.S. be confident of what is happening in China if Beijing is not more forthcoming in sharing information, Gottlieb said, "I think we've learned that we need to have more active surveillance," adding that "we have good flu surveillance in that part of the world as well. So if there was a novel strain of flu spreading, I think we would detect it."
However, the doctor did note that "the reality is that we're subject to the cooperation of foreign governments, and foreign governments need to be working with global health authorities. We should have learned our lessons coming out of COVID. A lot of nations did and do share more readily. China does not still, and that is a real frustration and a cause for concern."
Gottlieb also said that in the U.S., despite a cluster of unusual pneumonia in some parts of the country, it is looking at a "more typical winter pathogen season."
He stressed that "there's no reason to believe that we're going to have a worse flu season than what we've seen in past years, and probably hopefully less than what we saw last year where we saw a very dense and early epidemic of flu."
He noted that with COVID-19, cases right now are fewer in number than what they were last year at this point of time, and "there's no reason to believe that it's more dangerous than previous strains of COVID."
Brian Freeman ✉
Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.
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