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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview With German Chancellor Olaf Scholz; Interview With The Chair and CEO Of Chevron Mike Wirth; U.S. Intel Community Split On COVID's Origins. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 05, 2023 - 10:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.


ZAKARIA: Today on the program, an exclusive interview with the chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz. On Putin's war in Ukraine, on whether Ukraine and Russia should start talking about a peace deal, and about the future of Europe itself.

And Chevron CEO Mike Wirth on the present and future of oil which still powers our world.

Also just where did COVID come from? The so-called lab leak theory just got new life this week. We'll follow the facts with Dr. Leana Wen.


ZAKARIA: But first, here is my take. We're often told that America is deeply divided, that polarization makes it impossible for us to make any progress in policy. That our country is so internally conflicted it cannot project unity and strength to the world.

But on the most important foreign policy issue confronting policymakers, the problem is closer to the opposite. Washington has embraced a wide-ranging consensus on China that has turned into a classic example of group think.

To watch Tuesday's hearing held by the new House Select Committee on China was to be transported back to the 1950s. Members of both parties tried to out-do each other in their denunciations of China describing, as Committee chair Mike Gallagher did, the Communist Party as an existential threat to the United States and blaming it directly for every problem in America from drug use to COVID, to unemployment, an odd charge since unemployment is currently at a more than 50-year low.

One could dismiss some of this more extreme rhetoric as the usual congressional grandstanding. But it creates a dynamic that makes rational policy difficult. Consider what happened a few weeks ago. The president of the United States in what can only be described as a

panic ordered the U.S. Military to shoot down three balloons that were probably private weather balloons similar to hundreds of such objects in the sky around the world that posed no threat to anyone.

The sorts of balloons used by hobbyists and meteorological clubs can cost as little as $12. The missiles used to shoot down the recent offending objects cost over $400,000 each. The shootdowns were ordered of course so that no one could claim that Joe Biden was soft on China.

China is a serious strategic competitor. The most significant great power challenger that the United States has faced in many decades. That is all the more reason for Washington to shape a rational and considered foreign policy toward it rather than one forged out of paranoia, hysteria and above all fears of being branded as soft.

Whenever policy is made in those latter circumstances, think of Vietnam or Iraq, it turns out badly. In 2003, when Senate minority leader Tom Daschle tried to make the case for more diplomacy before going to war with Iraq, Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert suggested he was giving comfort to the enemy. The Select Committee on China spoke of those who dared to suggest improving relations with Beijing in similar terms.

Six years ago, before Donald Trump came into power, one would have described the U.S.-China relationship as difficult, perhaps even strained, and yet manageable with regular dialogue between the two nations at the highest levels. When Washington confronted China on certain issues such as currency manipulation, economic espionage, Beijing would make some effort to address the charges.

Today U.S.-China relations are a mess. China continues to do things that alarm Washington but there is no discussion between the two sides. Beijing is actively supporting Russia economically and diplomatically in its war on Ukraine. Were that support to expand to improve military assistance, Russia would gain an almost unlimited supply of armaments, transforming the war.


Nancy Pelosi's August 22 visit to Taiwan gave the People's Liberation Army a golden opportunity to practice a multi-day long blockade of the island that most likely military intervention in the event of a crisis. Were Kevin McCarthy to visit Taiwan, the PLA would likely use it as a pretext to practice a longer and more complete cut-off strategy showing Taiwan that it could be isolated at will.

Most troubling of all, China has embarked on a serious program of nuclear modernization. For decades Beijing took the position that its small nuclear arsenal hovering at just over 200 warheads was an adequate deterrent. The Chinese also routinely affirmed their no first use doctrine.

Today, Beijing's warhead stockpile is estimated to be at over 400 and China is on a path to more than triple that. Meanwhile, Russia has practically abandoned all nuclear arms control talks and treaties with the U.S. As I've noted before we face a new nuclear age in which two of the three largest arsenals on the planet are closely allied with their missiles likely targeting the United States.

How much of this was inevitable? It's hard to say. China has grown in power mightily since 2000. Back then it accounted for almost 4 percent of global GDP. Today that figure is about 18 percent. Its military expenditure has grown even faster. Xi Jinping is a far more aggressive leader than his predecessor.

But it is also true that U.S. policy has changed. Today we have a strong bipartisan view of the allegedly existential danger posed by the Chinese Communist Party which implies that regime change would be the only solution to this problem.

But has this comfortable consensus created a more secure world for Americans and others? Or are we moving down a path that takes us toward decades of arms races, crises, perhaps even war?

Go to for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

Just days after the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, German chancellor Olaf Scholz traveled to Washington to meet with President Biden. The war and its ripple effects were topics one, two and three on the agenda, the White House publicly announced. Right after he left the White House, Chancellor Scholz agreed to sit down for an exclusive interview with me.


ZAKARIA: Chancellor Scholz, a pleasure to have you on, sir.

OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: Thank you for having me.

ZAKARIA: So the leader of the German opposition, Friedrich Merz, says today, why is Olaf Scholz in Washington? What is he doing there? I thought I'd give you a chance to respond to him.

SCHOLZ: I already told the parliament what I'm doing here. I'm talking to the president and this is not the first talk. I was here one year ago but we met quite often and we have a lot of phone calls, we do conferences where we speak together. So this is part of a permanent dialogue of the two nations, of the president and me, and it's also a sign of a very good friendship and cooperation of the two countries.

ZAKARIA: How does Joe Biden strike you as a leader? You've met many leaders all over the world. What strikes you about Biden?

SCHOLZ: He is very informed about international relations. I think he's one of the most skilled presidents knowing how things are running in the world which is important in times that are becoming more dangerous and we see a lot of changes. And he is really a good man looking at the transatlantic partnership which is so important for Europe but also for peace of the world and for NATO.

And I think there is something which we have in common looking at the people, you in the United States called the middle class and I think it is important that we don't forget about their perspectives and their lives and their hopes. And so I like him.

ZAKARIA: When you were talking to President Biden, you must have confronted the reality that the war in Ukraine does appear to have settled into something of a stalemate. Neither side is making major advances, the Russians have seemed to have made some advances. Where does it go from here?

SCHOLZ: Looking at the situation, which looks like what you explained to us, we have to understand where we are coming from.


So, it was the idea of Russia that they will conquer the whole country in a very short time and they did not succeed. They had to regroup their troops, back from Kyiv, where they started their invasion, now they are doing this very ugly aggressive war in the east of Ukraine. And Russia never expected the strength of Ukraine, of the people, the braveness, how they defend their country. And he never expected that they are what he is not accepting, a nation, and all together.

And on the other hand he misjudged the unity of Europe, of the United States, and all the friends of Ukraine, and the permanent supply of weapons we give to the Ukraine, and so they were able to defend their country and they will be able to do it in the future.

It is very difficult to judge what will be the next things to happen in Ukraine, but there is something which is absolutely clear. We will continue to support Ukraine with financial, humanitarian aid, but also with weapons.

ZAKARIA: But if this continues for years, Ukraine as a country will be destroyed. Its economy is already down 40 percent, 50 percent, depending on what estimate you look at. Is there a point at which you have to start negotiations and is there a deal to be had where, you know, Ukraine gets some kind of security guarantees from NATO, perhaps E.U. membership, and in return it accepts the reality that it is not getting Crimea back, it is perhaps not getting some parts of the Donbas back?

SCHOLZ: There will be no decisions without the Ukrainians. We will not take decisions instead of them. We support them.

ZAKARIA: But should they -- would you encourage them to take --

SCHOLZ: So we told them that they can go for membership in the European Union, and they are very -- they are working to make progress and all the criteria that are important for this. I think they know that we will -- that we are ready to organize a certain way of security guarantee for the country in times of peace to come, but we are not there yet. And to my view it is necessary that Putin understands that he will not succeed with his invasion and this imperialistic aggression and that he has to withdraw troops.

This is the basis for talks and if you look at the proposal of the Ukrainians, you are -- it is easy to understand they are ready for peace. But there must be something done and this has to be done by Putin.


ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, more of my exclusive interview with the chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz.


SCHOLZ: No one really expected one year ago that we would easily economically survive a situation where there is no gas supply to Germany and many parts of Europe from Russia any more. But we did.





ZAKARIA: Chancellor Scholz, let me ask you about your extraordinary speech to the German Bundestag where you talked about a kind of revolution, a turning of German foreign policy. The whole world looked at it and was struck by what an extraordinary statement it was. But the action has not really followed on. You talked about $100 billion that was going to be spent in increase in defend spending. I think something like $8 billion is going to be spent this year. Is there -- what is stopping you from making your actions match your words?

SCHOLZ: First, I announced that we will supply weapons to Ukraine and give all the necessary financial aid. And we are now the strongest supporter of Ukraine in the continental Europe and we will continue to be. It is 14 billion euros which we spent in one or the other way to support Ukraine in the last year, and this is also due to weapons where we are acting together with the United States and other friends and delivering a lot of very successful weapons for the defense of Ukraine.

The last decision was about combat tanks together with the United States but it was the same when we discussed about multi-rocket launchers, for instance, and similar weapons necessary for Ukraine. So we delivered what -- in this case. And the second is that we made us independent from the supply of gas, coal and oil from Russia.

No one really expected one year ago that we would easily economically survive a situation where there is no gas supply to Germany and many parts of Europe from Russia any more. But we did. And increasing the capacity of L&G imports from the western ports of Europe and also building new ports in the norther shores of Germany using for a longer time as we planned coal plants, also using nuclear plants which were running out but we increased the possibility for them to produce electricity.

And so we made it. And nothing of what some people expected happened. There is no economic crisis in Germany. There is -- there is no gas shortage or something like that. And there is also --

ZAKARIA: All the more reason to spend more on defense now.


SCHOLZ: And there is also social stability. Yes, we spent all together $300 billion to stabilize our economy and to save the pockets of the normal people. That they can survive a situation of increasing prices and increased prices for energy which we are seeing that they are going down again. And also, we started with investing more in our defense and it is absolutely clear that we will go to 2 percent of our GDP as is agreed in NATO.


SCHOLZ: We are starting with this and we are not spending a billion, we are spending quite a lot because we already have the highest defense budget in the European Union to be very clear, as Germany. But we are willing to increase this. But it is not that we're going to go shopping more and saying I want to buy this or this, and it is even different as if we would buy some cars or trucks which you can ask companies to do and you will have them ride the next day or in two or three or six months' time.

In many cases, we have to make the industry starting their production and delivering this to us. And this is the idea behind $600 billion fund which was agreed by the parliament with a two-third majority. That we can take now the decisions that are necessary for the long- term supply of our army, and this will be about tanks and it will be about air defense, and it will be about munition. And my idea is that we have to change the way how we are dealing with the defense industry.

So we need -- and this is also a lesson we learned now from Ukraine and the war the Russians started against Ukraine. We need a permanent supply. So the main weapons we use should be produced permanently. This is also for all the necessary maintenance and this is also for munition. If we do so, this will increase our capability, but it will increase also the security because as we see in the difficult situation, we must be able to increase the production, so it is easier to increase the production that is already ongoing as to start newly because this will happen two or three years later.

And this is also the answer. When we in this year will make all the agreements with the defense industry about the things they will deliver to us, we will not get them the next day. It will sometimes take some years. Even the F-35 we are buying in the United States will not be coming to Germany just the next day.


ZAKARIA: More in a moment with Chancellor Scholz, including China, which the White House signaled would be on President Biden's agenda with him.

Is the chancellor ready to get tough on key trading partner? We'll be right back.



ZAKARIA: For the past seven years, China has been Germany's top trading partner. There was more than $300 billion in trade between the two nations last year according to Reuters. Germany's own finance minister suggested the strength of the relationship may actually be dangerous saying that his country should learn from what has transpired with Russia.

I asked the German Chanceller Olaf Scholz about Berlin-Beijing relations as part of my exclusive interview.


ZAKARIA: Chancellor, I want to ask you about China. The European Union, Europe has been very closely allied with America and its position on Russia. Do you in Germany believe that you are in exactly the same place as the United States with regard to China policy?

SCHOLZ: We all are very clear there should be no circumventing of sanctions by China and we are looking intensely that this is not happening as far as we see more or less they are not circumventing but we will continue to look. And this is even more so that we ask them not to deliver weapons to Russia and we are telling them in our bilateral talks but also publicly that they should not do. So we are --

ZAKARIA: And what do they say to you when you say that?

SCHOLZ: Well, publicly they said they will not deliver weapons. But it is just necessary to say what has to be said and this is --

ZAKARIA: Could you imagine sanctioning China if they were to --

SCHOLZ: I think it would have consequences. But we are now in a stage where we are making clear that this should not happen and I'm relatively optimistic that we will be successful with our request in this case. But we will have to look at it and we have to be very, very cautious.

And let me just remind you that one thing happened when I went to China and spoke with Xi Jinping. He agreed that the two of us publicly say that the use of nuclear weapons should not happen in this war.


SCHOLZ: And this made it also feasible that in the G20 meeting in Indonesia, on Bali, we were able to agree on a speech or the language where we say, this weapon should not be used. And this is very helpful because it helps not to make it much more difficult to escalate the war to something like this. And if you hear all of the words about nuclear weapons before and afterwards it is really a change. So, we have to be very clear with our position in this case and we are altogether. And we have to work intensely that we have a lot of countries supporting a world which is not revisionist, which is not -- which is accepting borders. This is the real change coming from the Russian war. It is not just the European question, it is a question for the whole world, that Russia is not accepting agreements that had been made with the -- with the United Nations, had been made in the conference on security and peace in Europe and others, other activities we had in the past, that there should be no change of borders by force.

And when I discussed to countries in Asia or Africa or the south of America, I think that many agree to that. And we see it in the decisions of the general assembly. Many agreed to this view even if they do not vote in favor of this voting of the assembly. But they understand that this is a threat also to them. And if we continuously talk to our friends over there, I think it will be helpful for forming a world that is multi-polar, but a better world and not more dangerous.

ZAKARIA: Xi Jinping says Vladimir Putin is his best friend. He said that many times. Is it your sense there is a personal bond between the two of them?

SCHOLZ: I think that they know who they are. And this is why they also cooperate. They have common history in the way of political leadership. They now are on completely different paths. But we have to make very clear that changing borders by force is not acceptable.

ZAKARIA: Chancellor Scholz, you're very kind to have given us the time. It is an honor.

SCHOLZ: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, as the energy crisis continues I asked an oil CEO, what is stopping us from going green? Is it his company? When we come back.



ZAKARIA: Russia's war in Ukraine has created a global energy crisis that has led countries across the world to reopen coal plants, restart nuclear reactors, and boost oil production in order to fix a short- term crunch. Meanwhile, the consequences of climate change are getting worse and worse. Is there a way to provide people the energy they need today and at the same time tackle the issue of climate change?

I'm joined by the CEO of Chevron, Mike Wirth. Mike Wirth, welcome to the show.


ZAKARIA: So when you look at the price of oil now, around $83.00, $84.00 a barrel, it is where it was before Russia invaded Ukraine. And most people said the war is going to cause severe constraints on supply. Once China reopens they will consume 2 million barrels a day that they stopped during COVID. So, how come it is still at $83.00 a barrel?

WIRTH: The fear was, and the prices ran up on the concern that Russia supplies would come out of the market. That hasn't happened. Russian crude is still flowing to different places but it is still in the market. And in fact the policy of both the U.S. and the E.U. has been to keep those supplies flowing to try to impact the price at which that oil trades.

So, I think the fact that prices are largely the same as they were before is because supply and demand is largely the same as it was before the war. There are risks that China demand can increase. We'll see how the, you know, the concerns about recession in the U.S. play out, but I think the risks are on the demand side in the two biggest economies.

ZAKARIA: So, I want to ask you the question that people look at with despair. If you go back to 1980 and you look at world energy use, the world energy use was 90 percent fossil fuels, roughly. If you look at it today, 40 years later, it is about 80 percent.

A lot of people would say you're the problem. That the oil, that the fossil fuel industry has gotten all kinds of subsidies, have laws written, has been given all kinds of benefits, has, you know, mounted a campaign of misinformation. So, I want you to give you an opportunity to tell me why do you think -- why do you think it has been so difficult to wean us off fossil fuels when we do know that they are causing climate change?

WIRTH: Well, the first thing is, Fareed, demand has increases since 2000. I'll just go back 20 years, not 40 years. Demand for oil and gas has increased by a third in the world in just the last 20 years. Despite the concerns about climate, despite tremendous investment in wind and solar and tremendous growth in renewable power.

ZAKARIA: And why do you think that is?

WIRTH: Population is growing. There is a middle class today that continues to grow and everything that a middle class lifestyle requires is dependent upon energy, light, heat, mobility, space heating, space cooling, mechanized agriculture, the things that the emerging economies rely on for a better standard of living all require energy --



ZAKARIA: Most of this increase in demand has come from the emerging markets, the developing --

WIRTH: The fastest growing sources of demand are in the emerging markets. And the demand is met by the energy sources that work best in these different countries. And there is no one solution. There are many different solutions that these countries are seeking.

ZAKARIA: So, you say you believe that climate change is real. You want to do something about it. You said you don't know anyone who disagrees with what the Biden people are doing on the Inflation Reduction Act. What would you do to try to stop -- you know, you look at the trend lines and they look really bad, what would you do?

WIRTH: I would encourage -- there are three things as you talk about the energy transition that really matter, scale, speed, and solutions. So scale, scale the energy system is enormous to keep the lights on, to keep the trains running. And the consumers of energy tend to be long cycle capital investments, airplanes, ships, factories, you know, cars -- electric vehicles are about the fastest turn over part of the energy consuming system and they last for 20 years. So, the scale is enormous and growing every day.

ZAKARIA: Just to put that into English so people understand, if you're building an airline, it is going to -- it is going to go run for 40 years, you need to know the fuel that you use is going to be around for 40 years.

WIRTH: And if you -- if you are buying a plane today, you don't retire it two years from now because you decide you want to run it on a different fuel. It has got -- their business requires them to fly that airplane for decades to amortize the investment in the plane.

When you get to speed, the introduction of technologies is governed by economics and demand. And we've seen when coal came into the system to go from one percent of demand to 10 percent it took 60 years. And it was a much smaller energy system in those days. Both oil and gas took four decades to go from one percent to 10 percent.

We've seen $4.5 trillion invested in wind and solar just over just the last decade. And it has moved from one percent of global energy supply to three percent. So, the scale governs the speed. The speed will be different in different parts of the world. And -- so, that brings me to the third point which is we need all solutions.

We need wind. We need solar. We need electric vehicles. We also need oil and gas. We should be trying to find a way to make every component affordable, make it reliable for national security purposes and make it ever cleaner.

ZAKARIA: And what do you say to, you know, somebody like an Al Gore who will say the problem is we're still too reliant on fossil fuels, the only way to stop, to break that kind of dependency is to force these oil companies to produce less, either by taxing them or by regulating them, that part of the problem is we have an easy addiction to your product and we need to end it.

WIRTH: To force the existing energy system out of use right now is going to take economies backwards. It will take the quality of life backward. It will -- it will move society in a direction that society doesn't want to go.

And so, what we got to do is find ways to move forward, to encourage all these technologies to compete on a lower carbon basis. But to exclude the 80 percent of what runs the world economy today and say that, no, you can't use that, is -- that's not what -- that's not what progress looks like.

Everybody wants -- I'll call it energy system A, which is the one we have today, 80 percent fossil fuels, the same as it was decades ago and wants to switch to system B, but system B is one or two percent built. And if we turn system A off, we're getting an example of what that could look like by watching Europe right now and some of the concerns of the prices and the worries about energy and security.

We need to seek an orderly transition which means stability in pricing, stability in supplies. We can't create economic chaos and pain on individuals or they will lose interest in an energy transition if the cost is too high.

ZAKARIA: Thirty years from now, will there still -- will that number, 80 percent, you know, 80 percent of energy used worldwide is fossil fuel, 30 years from now what will that number be?

WIRTH: It may be lower than 80 but it will still be a substantial portion of the mix.

ZAKARIA: Mike Wirth, pleasure to have you on.

WIRTH: Fareed, good to be with you.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, where did coronavirus come from? The debate came back to the fore this week but my next guest says we are asking the wrong question. I'll explain when we come back.



ZAKARIA: Where did COVID-19 come from? It is a question the world has been asking for three years now. The debate around it was ignited this past weekend after the United States' energy department concluded that a lab leak in Wuhan, China, was the most likely source. But there remains a divide both within the intelligence community and among scientists over the true origins in the pandemic. Will we ever know the real answer.

Joining me now is Dr. Leana Wen, a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and the author of "Lifelines, A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health." Welcome, Leana. I want to first ask you, what do you make of this assessment from the Department of Energy? Is it a big change?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, frankly, Fareed, I don't know what to make of this assessment. Because we don't know what exactly the Department of Energy found.


According to CNN reporting, it seems like they are saying there is a lab in Wuhan, the Chinese CDC in Wuhan, that was conducting research into coronaviruses. Well, we already knew this. And what we're missing now is a link between the samples that were being studied and the individuals who may have gotten infected because of it, and whether that, in fact, is COVID-19.

And the Department of Energy assessment was made with low confidence. And there are four other intelligence agencies within the U.S. that came up with a different assessment, thinking that the zoonotic origin, the animal to human spillover is more likely.

And so, I think at this point there is circumstantial evidence on both sides. But there is one thing that the intelligence community has found and in fact has been really unanimously saying since early on, which is that this was not intentional. This was not a bioweapon. This was not something that China or scientists or whatever politicians or political leaders were trying to do.

ZAKARIA: Yes. That is so well put. Because it struck me -- I was also one of those people who initially confronted with the evidence, what little we had, said, look, it appears that a lot of these diseases that we have been seeing, SARS, MERS, avian flu, you know, Ebola, seem to have zoonotic origins. I think that there are some questions about SARS but most of the cases seem to be animal to human transmissions, out in the wild. And so, it seemed plausible that this one also came this way. But in either event, you're saying it is absolutely clear it was accidental?

WEN: That is right. And that is what the intelligence communities have found, that is also what virologists, scientists have found as well. And so, we're looking at two possibilities. One is that there was some kind of lab mishap. And that is possible because lab mishaps have happened before. It is happened here in the U.S. where, for example, in 2014 federal health officials found that there were unlabelled vials in an unsecured storage area that turned out to be smallpox. The CDC, in fact, has made mistakes when it comes to the anthrax bacterium or pandemic influenza. And so, we've had lab mishaps.

Just last year in the Netherlands there was also a lab mishap involving polio and a lab worker accidently gotten infected with polio there. And so this is something that certainly can happen. But at the same time, you're right, Fareed, that three out of four new or emerging diseases come from the zoonotic origins. And so, we also need to look at the effect of climate change, deforestation, these wildlife wet markets and what the contribution there is.

And so, I guess, my point here is that we need to shift the question, we may never definitively know the answer of what exactly caused COVID-19. And so, if we think that there are these two possibilities, both of which are likely, then why are we not working to prevent both of these things from happening in the future?

ZAKARIA: One of the reasons we'll never know this is the Chinese government is really not cooperating and is if anything, you know, feeding a certain amount of false information or incomplete information. And, you know, there is a question that people have which is, should there be accountability for the fact that the Chinese government really has not been very forthcoming from day one, from the origins of the virus and that may have contributed to its faster spread? What do you say about that?

WEN: I'd say that it is a really complicated issue. Because on the one hand, of course, you're totally right that the obfuscation on the part of the Chinese Communist Party has been totally unacceptable. I mean, the Chinese government didn't allow a WHO, World Health Organization, expert team to enter the country.

We're now more than three years into the beginning of COVID. It is like trying to investigate a murder after three years and the initial evidence may be gone

And so, what they did then -- and also the lack of containment initially was really wrong. But at the same time, if we're threatening sanctions and reparations and even criminal liability as some politicians in the U.S. have suggested, that is not going to make China cooperate more. We don't want to worsen the prospect of global collaboration which is honestly what we really need to tackle future pandemics too.

ZAKARIA: And so your fundamental point in "The Washington Post" piece, which I really thought was terrific, is that we need to understand that the real reason we're seeing the rise of so many of these kinds of viruses, over the last 30, 40 years, really starting with AIDS, is that human beings are living in ways that are more dangerous.

We're living closer and closer to wildlife. This urbanization is making that happen. Climate change is exacerbating it. One of the things I worry a lot about is factory farming where you have, you know, tens and tens of thousands of chickens and pigs, you know, in fairly unsanitary conditions and that that is what makes the next pandemic quite likely.


Have we learned any lesson from COVID?

WEN: I think we've learned some lessons. As to whether we've implemented these into practice is less clear to me. We definitely have recognized the importance of surveillance and I think we're seeing more early surveillance including using wastewater. I think that is a very good thing.

We've also seen the impact of global collaboration. And how we as the world of scientists have come together to, for example, create these vaccines and deliver on treatments in record time. I think those are all very positive things.

But what I really worry about is that public trust is really eroded in public health. And that is everything. And I really worry that in the discussion about the origin of COVID, that people have hitched on to various theories as part of their political identity which is really not how science is supposed to work.

ZAKARIA: Leana Wen, pleasure to talk to you.

WEN: Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.