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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  January 31, 2021 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

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even if you've looked before, you should look again. enrollment ends january 31st. >> with cruel isolation and outrageous speed, covid-19 has become the nation's third leading killer. the accelerating vaccine campaign offers hope, but for the families of nearly half a million dead, there's no medicine for the pain. people are talking about, "isn't it going to be great when this is over." and it occurs to me that, for a lot of people in this country, it will never be over. >> what is normal? normal is not a thing for a lot of us anymore. ( ticking ) >> what's the likelihood you and i have been hacked by china?
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>> 110%. >> personal data? >> personal data. >> so what does china plan to do with that intimate personal information, including your medical data? "60 minutes" has spent months investigating why the world's largest biotech firm, the b.g.i. group based in china, offered american states, overrun by covid, brand new testing labs. intelligence sources we spoke with say it is all about china's quest to control our biodata. how close are we to that? >> i don't know how close we are, but i can feel it breathing down our neck. ( ticking ) >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bill whitaker. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm jon wertheim. >> i'm scott pelley. those stories and more, tonight, on "60 minutes." ( ticking ) ♪ oh, oh, oh, ozempic®! ♪ (announcer) once-weekly ozempic® is helping many people with type 2 diabetes like emily
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>> pelley: the biden administration has a new goal, of inoculating nearly all americans against covid-19 by the end of summer. to that end, last week, the u.s. ordered an additional 200 million vaccine doses. this month marks the anniversary of covid in america. last year, on january 31, there were eight confirmed cases. now, it's 26 million. a year ago, there were no reported deaths. but today, nearly 450,000 americans are gone. as vast as these numbers are, there is a third, even larger
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group of pandemic sufferers. they are the bereaved, the family members left behind. they did not die, but they lost their lives-- the lives they had so carefully planned. ( cheers and applause ) tim branscomb opened a tiny box and released a cheer. on a cruise in september 2019, lauren thomas collapsed into his arms, in part because he actually did get the ring she sent him in a picture. >> lauren thomas: and i sent him screenshots, just messing with him, like, "you know, if you ever want to propose, like, these are rings that i like." >> pelley: how did you meet? >> thomas: we actually met in high school. he was always looking for me, and i was always running the other way. later on, we reconnected on facebook. and i realized, like, okay, you know... >> pelley: tim, a 32-year-old security guard, and lauren, a chicago health insurance administrator, set their date:
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december 2021. >> thomas: i called him teddy, because he was just like a big teddy bear. he called me kitty. he was a big guy, 6'7", like, 417 pounds. on the surface it's, like, wow, oh, that's a big scary guy. but then, when you go to know him, like, "oh, you're just so cuddly." >> pelley: but last april, when doctors were struggling to understand treatment, the big man fell hard, after six days in the hospital. >> thomas: i got a call. and it was a doctor, and i just heard, like, all these, like, machines going off. like, all these beeps. and she was asking me to have his mom call, because it was an emergency. >> pelley: tim's kidneys were failing. >> thomas: then, a few minutes later, like, the doctor called back. when she called that time, it was quiet. the machines had stopped, the beeping had stopped. you could tell the room was quiet. so, i knew, like, it was real. he was gone.
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>> pelley: two weeks before, she picked flowers for the wedding. now she was choosing funeral wreaths. >> thomas: i had to contact our wedding venue and let them know, like, "hey, he passed away. there won't be a wedding." and i had to get that deposit back from them, and then in turn contribute that money to his burial. >> pelley: tell me about tim's funeral. >> thomas: i dn't even refer to it as a funeral, because he couldn't even have, like, a proper, decent funeral. it was just a viewing. >> pelley: because of the pandemic. >> thomas: and that's, like, what hurts me the most. because he was so personable, he was so charitable, he was so warm, and yet, he had to die alone on a ventilator and couldn't even get a proper celebration of his life. >> pelley: with cruel isolation and outrageous speed, covid has become the nation's third leading killer. cancer and heart disease kill more, but they don't attack
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entire families at once. in march, andy phillips, a pennsylvania sales executive, went into the hospital as his wife, trish, and their four children suffered at home. >> colin phillips: body aches, migraines, vomiting; everything. and then, two days after my dad went in, i went into the hospital. >> pelley: trish, you had andy and colin in the hospital at the same time and you must've thought you could've lost them both? >> trish phillips: yeah. and my father-in-law was in the hospital, too. >> pelley: andy's father? >> trish phillips: andy's father passed away from covid on april 28. >> pelley: and then andy pd? >> trish phillips: may 31. >> pelley: andy phillips was a six-day-a-week runner. and he passed away at what age? >> trish phillips: he turned 53 the week before. >> pelley: he endured the marathon in the hospital for 65 days. weeks later, trish received a
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hefty envelope in the mail. >> trish phillips: it was addressed to andy. it was an itemized bill from the hospital for about four weeks of his hospital stay. >> pelley: what did it come to? >> trish phillips: it came to a little over $4 million. >> pelley: it was months before she learned that insurance would pay. it was unsettling at the worst time. but her husband's memory helped her through it. >> trish phillips: andy's battle really touched and changed a lot of people. and i think he'll continue to help us. >> pelley: how has it changed you? >> trish phillips: i'm definitely stronger than i thought. but, you know, i kind of always leaned on him. he was kind of our rock. it's just a different future for me. >> pelley: a different future
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and an uncertain one for the bereaved, including jamie drezek. >> jamie drezek: we don't have the center of our universe anymore. we wanted to grow old with the grandkids, and we had plans. and those are all gone. >> pelley: in june, jamie lost her 49-year-old husband, craig. he was a college administrator in connecticut. at some point, inevitably, you have to begin worrying about practical things. and craig was the biggest part of your income. >> jamie drezek: you know, we had life insurance. but 80% of our income was lost. and you hate to look at it, like-- you know, you think about the emotional part. and then you have to think of the practical thing. like, how am i now going to raise five children in this life that we've built together? >> pelley: we asked the five to join us: alex, sydnie, colbie, caden and kiley. >> jamie drezek: my youngest is
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only 12 years old. i have a long way to go still. i can hear them, "don't ask mom for that, that's too expensive." that makes me feel even worse, because i don't want them to-- it's hard enough dealing with losing your father. >> pelley: it's a lot to deal with, having such a large family. on the other hand, many hands make light work. >> jamie drezek: yeah. as much work as they create, they help at the same time. not only the physical things that need to get done, but just to be able to share all of our different stories. it's going to help keep my husband alive and with us. >> pelley: craig is sitting all around you. >> jamie drezek: and when i look at them, i can see it. i see the mannerisms, i see the behaviors, i see a little bit-- a lot of him in each of them. >> pelley: caden drezek told us about his dad's last words to him. >> caden drezek: "as of right now, you're the man in the
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house, and you've got to, like, take over, and take all my responsibilities," so. it's a lot-- it's still a lot of pressure, but i feel like it's kind of my job to do. >> pelley: at the age of 15. >> caden drezek: yeah. >> pelley: when a parent dies too young, children age too soon. covid made emerick falta an orphan. >> emerick falta: me and my mom, we were best friends. she loved kids. and she loved working with other people. >> pelley: after his father died years ago, his mother-- his best friend-- emmy, raised him in new york. last week, deaths in the city averaged 70 a day, but last spring, emmy falta was sick when 700 were dying each day. as a college junior, emerick eased her journey to the end. >> falta: they told me that i was the person in charge of my mom and her medical decisions.
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>> pelley: she was 41. their last touch was through a screen. >> falta: and throughout that entire facetime call, i tried to smile. i tried so hard, to make, you know, if this was my last memory with her, i really wanted it to be me smiling. i wanted it to be me hopeful. and i said, "mom, you're going to make it through this. and i love you." >> pelley: how has losing your mother, your last remaining parent, changed your young life? >> falta: i've always been independent. i've always been able to help out others when the help is needed. now that i'm fully on my own, although it feels lonely, i feel like i can manage. >> pelley: jake schoffstall shares the loneliness and the
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need to manage. he told his dad there was no need to worry anymore about the family business. >> jake schoffstall: i said, "dad, i got it from here. give me the torch. and let me take care of mom and jaidyn and everybody." and i said, "i'll keep the deer barn open, no matter what." >> pelley: and how old are you now? >> jake schoffstall: i'm 17. >> pelley: the deer barn is a feed store in rural indiana. jake and his dad started it to add to john schoffstall's pay as a firefighter. >> pelley: when do you miss john the most? >> jennifer schoffstall: at night, when i remember he's not coming home. >> pelley: jennifer schoffstall told us john got sick in march. today, indiana has vaccinated about 6% of the state-- half a million people. but last spring, covid seemed like just a curiosity on the news. >> jennifer schoffstall: we're terre haute, indiana. we're not a big city. we're not world travelers. we're midwest, rural country folks.
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so i can't say that we really took it serious. >> pelley: she couldn't visit the hospital, so to be near him, she and others in the family sat in a car, outside his room, all day and all night-- every day. >> jennifer schoffstall: i sent one text to one firefighter and said, "8:00 tonight, i'll be at the hospital praying for john." and so that night, the entire fire department came. >> pelley: the vigil stood for more than a week. >> pastor: lord, we lift john schoffstall up to you, and we thank you with everything we got. >> pelley: but 41-year-old john schoffstall died before dawn on a sunday. jennifer was with him-- on a facetime call. >> jennifer schoffstall: they were doing c.p.r. at that time. and i was telling him to stop. don't go. i needed him. and then they said, we lost him.
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>> pelley: and that was easter sunday. >> jennifer schoffstall: he's one of the only people i have ever known to be able to go be in heaven on resurrection sunday. and that's pretty powerful to me. >> pelley: these are early days. days when the bereaved still expect to hear the key in the door or catch themselves thinking about something they'll say when the one who's gone comes home. they are days that lauren thomas lives in the past tense. i can't help but notice you're wearing your engagement ring. >> thomas: yes. i cannot take it off. even though i saw him in the casket. i saw them lower that same casket into the ground. but taking this ring off just confirms that all of this is real. he's really gone.
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so, i don't know how long it's going to be on my hand, but i'm in no rush to take it off. >> pelley: all over the country, people are talking about, "isn't it going to be great when this is over?" and it occurs to me, speaking to you, that for a lot of people in this country, it will never be over. >> thomas: never be. what is normal? normal is not a thing for a lot of us anymore. ( ticking ) this is andy, my schwab financial consultant. here's andy listening to my goals and making plans. this is us talking tax-smart investing, managing risk, and all the ways schwab can help me invest. this is andy reminding me how i can keep my investing costs low and that there's no fee to work with him. here's me learning about schwab's satisfaction guarantee. accountability, i like it. so, yeah. andy and i made a good plan. find your own andy at schwab. a modern approach to wealth management.
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sfx: [sounds of everyday life events, seen and heard in reverse] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ sfx: [sounds of fedex planes and vehicles engines] ♪ sfx: [sounds of children laughing and running,
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life moving forward] >> jon wertheim: for all the polarization that grips washington, here's a source of rare consensus: the emerging threat of china's push to acquire our healthcare data, including the d.n.a. of american citizens. u.s. officials tell us the communist regime's aggressive
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collection of our most personal information presents a danger both to national security and our economy. as alarm bells ring across agencies, parties, and presidential administrations, different branches of government have taken action over the past year to stem the tide of our medical data flowing to china. the quest to control our biodata, and, in turn, control healthcare's future, has become the new space race, with more than national pride in the balance. our investigation begins with an unsolicited and surprising proposal that came from overseas at the onset of the covid crisis. early last march, the state of washington was the site of the first major coronavirus outbreak in the u.s. as covid rates and the need for tests were spiking, b.g.i. group, the world's largest biotech firm, a global giant based in china, approached the state of washington with an enticing offer. in a strikingly personal letter to the governor, b.g.i. proposed
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to build and help run state-of- the-art covid testing labs. b.g.i. would "provide technical expertise," provide "high throughput sequencers" and even "make additional donations." it seemed like an offer the state couldn't refuse, especially given the desperate need. but officials were suspicious about b.g.i. and its connections to the chinese government. >> bill evanina: they are the ultimate company that shows connectivity to both the communist state as well as the military apparatus. >> wertheim: bill evanina recently stepped down as the top counterintelligence official in the u.s., a veteran of both the f.b.i. and c.i.a. he was so concerned by b.g.i.'s covid testing proposals-- and who would ultimately get the data, that he authorized a rare public warning: "foreign powers can collect, store and exploit biometric information from covid tests." >> evanina: we put out an advisory to not only every american, but to hospitals, associations, and clinics.
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knowing that b.g.i. is a chinese company, do we understand where that data's going? >> wertheim: tens of millions americans getting covid tests this year. you don't think a lot of them are thinking, "boy, where is this data going, what third party's involved in this?" >> evanina: i would proffer no one's thinking that. but this shows the nefarious mindset of the communist party of china, to take advantage of a worldwide crisis like covid. >> wertheim: bill evanina suspects these lab offers are modern-day trojan horses. b.g.i. comes to the u.s. bearing gifts, but harboring other motives. it's unclear whether b.g.i.-- or any covid tester-- would get d.n.a. from nasal swabs, he says, but the labs are a way to establish a foothold, to bring their equipment here, start mining your data, and set up shop in your neighborhood. >> you: you have to take a step back and ask yourself who has access to that data. >> wertheim: supervisory special agent edward you is a former biochemist-turned-f.b.i. investigator. >> you: and with that, there's a very uncomfortable truth that comes out, that in the last
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decade or so, you'll see that china has heavily invested, through the purchase or acquisition of actual companies, access to our data. >> wertheim: the question is, where is this data going? all roads lead to china? >> you: they are the biggest player right now. >> wertheim: the authoritarian government of china and its leader xi jinping have been boldly open about their ambitions to beat the west and reap the benefits of advances in d.n.a. science and technology. published manifesto with ahas a catchy name. >> you: they have something called "made in china 2025." and in these national strategies, they absolutely call out wanting to be the dominant leader in this biological age. so, wanting to be the leader an, precision medicine. >> wertheim: for all the classified briefings about china that bill evanina received, the threat really hit home when he called home. >> evanina: this is the argument inen years from now-- my dad gets a phone call and is told, "hey, by the way, we understand you're going to develop
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hypertension. and you're on the verge of parkinson's. here are three medicines you should take moving forward to help alleviate some of the symptoms." my dad's going to be like, "well, how do they know this?" and the company's from china. because they've already micro- targeted my dad based upon his d.n.a. and my dad says, "okay, i'll do it." >> wertheim: the devil's advocate argument would say, "listen, if you're able to pinpoint something in my d.n.a., i'll sign up for that." >> evanina: that's exactly what my dad said. so my argument is, to him, from a long-term existential cost to our nation, do we want to do that? do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our health care services? are we okay with that as a nation? if we are as a nation, then so be it. but that's what's happening. >> wertheim: our dependence on china during covid, for p.p.e., for masks, will pale in comparison to our potential health care dependence going forward, according to edward you of the f.b.i. >> you: what happens if we realize that all of our future drugs, our future vaccines,
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future health care, are all completely dependent upon a foreign source? if we don't wake up, we'll realize one day we've just become health care crack addicts and someone like china has become our pusher. >> wertheim: health care crack addicts, you say? >> you: right. if they're in a position to be able to offer you personalized, effective, low-cost health care, would we be in a position to say "no, i don't think so?" >> wertheim: how close are we to that? >> you: i don't know how close we are, but i can feel it breathing down our neck. >> wertheim: this sounds a little xenophobic. i mean, if china is the industry leader here, why wouldn't you do business with them? >> you: well, at the end of the day, it's not about the chinese people. it's about the chinese government. >> wertheim: he says china's government understands that their future success hinges on accumulating large amounts of human d.n.a. >> you: they are building out a huge domestic database. and if they are now able to supplement that with data from all around the world, it's all about who gets the largest, most
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diverse data set. and so, the ticking time bomb is that, once they're able to achieve true artificial intelligence, then they're off to the races in what they can do with that data. >> wertheim: you're saying biggest data set wins? >> you: correct. >> wertheim: think of d.n.a. as the ultimate treasure map, a kind of double-helixed chart containing the code for traits ranging from our eye color to our susceptibility to certain diseases. if you have 10,000 d.n.a. samples, scientists could possibly isolate the genetic markers in the d.n.a. associated with, say, breast cancer. but if you have ten million samples, your statistical chances of finding the markers improve dramatically, which is why china wants to get so much of it. >> you: it is one-sided, though. that china passed a law last year. the chinese government has absolutely clamped down on any access to their biological data or their biological samples. so it is a one-way street. >> wertheim: so, their data's not leaving china, but they're sucking it in from all over the world? >> you: right. >> wertheim: it's not just
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d.n.a., according to bill evanina. he and his colleagues have been uses less-than-honorable methods to vacuum up all sorts of data from outside their borders. >> evanina: they do it both legitimately and illegitimately. they steal some data, but they're very strategic in how they acquire it from around the world. >> wertheim: you're saying at least in some cases, china's hacking to get this information. >> evanina: china is number one in the world at any kind of hacking capability, and they're brazen about it. >> wertheim: in december, john ratcliffe, then the director of national intelligence, went so far as to name china as the number one national security threat to america, citing specifically, their theft of data and technology. >> evanina: you have probably five or six health care companies the last five years who have been, i would say, penetrated, ex-filtrated, hacked by china. >> wertheim: what's the likelihood you and i have been hacked by china? >> evanina: 110%. >> wertheim: personal data? >> evanina: personal data. current estimates are that 80% of american adults have had all of their personally identifiable information stolen by the
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communist party of china. >> wertheim: the concern is that the chinese regime is taking all that information about us, what we eat, how we live, when we exercise and sleep, and then combining it with our d.n.a. with iormation about herit know more about us than we know about ourselves and, bypassing doctors, china can target us with treatments and medicine we don't even know we need. >> you: think about the dawn of the internet of things and the 5g networks and the-- and smart homes and smart cities. there are going to be sensors everywhere. it's going to be tracking your movement, your behavior, your habits. and ultimately, it's going to have a biological application, meaning that, based on the data that gets collected, they'll be able to analyze that and look at improving your health. that data becomes incredibly relevant and very, very valuable. >> wertheim: you're describing data almost as-- as a commodity. >> you: data is absolutely going to be the new oil. >> wertheim: all this may sound like a premise for a dystopian
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futuristic science fiction movie, but u.s. government officials say the picture gets even scarier, given how china is already using d.n.a. strategically against its own citizens today. >> sophie richardson: these are some of the most serious abuses that the chinese government has committed in modern history. >> wertheim: sophie richardson, director of the china program for human rights watch, says china has rounded up more than a million uyghurs, chinese citizens who are a muslim minority, and jailed them in camps. the u.s. government calls this a crime against humanity. >> richardson: they're being subjected to political indoctrination. they can't use their own language. they're not allowed to worship. those people are highly restricted in how they can live their lives. >> wertheim: this is a population under constant surveillance? >> richardson: yeah. it's-- it's a region that's awash in surveillance technology, ranging from, you know, facial recognition software, surveillance cameras, data doors, wi-fi sniffers. >> wertheim: part of the social
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control includes the forced collection of d.n.a. under the guise of free physicals for uyghurs. richardson says china is actually collecting d.n.a. and other biometric data, that's then used specifically to identify people, target other family members and refine facial recognition software. and those, national security officials say, are just the uses we know about. in response to the uyghur repression, last july, the u.s. department of commerce sanctioned two subsidiaries of a chinese biotech company. that company? b.g.i., the same one offering washington state the covid testing lab. >> you: those companies were identified to have been facilitating the collection of genetic information of ethnic uyghurs. if anything, that should serve as a warning signal for all of us that that is potentially what can happen if our data gets out of our hands, how it could be used. >> wertheim: it's not a coincidencg.invoed
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in the uyghur crisis, given the company's close relationship with the communist regime. in 2010, after receiving $1.5 billion from china's government, b.g.i. was able to expand dramatically. >> evanina: they're monstrous. they have contracts with over 60 countries globally to provide not only genomic sequencing, but also to provide analytics. >> wertheim: they say, "we're a private company." are they? >> evanina: there's no such thing as a private company in the communist party of china. >> wertheim: under a series of laws unthinkable in western democracies, chinese companies like b.g.i. are obligated to share data with the chinese regime. it's as if, say, google, amazon and facebook had to turn over their data to the c.i.a., on nd. >> wertheio g to tell me that the chinese government, whether it's biotech or they can say, "hey, we want your information. please provide it." >> evanina: absolutely. you must provide any and all data that's asked for by the communist party in china. which, the scary part is, sometimes it's not all their data. if you are in a joint partnership, a joint venture,
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their data is now susceptible to go to the chinese communist party. >> wertheim: as b.g.i. touts on its own website, the company has been steadily developing partnerships with hospitals and biotech companies inside the united states, giving b.g.i., and by extension, the chinese government, potential access to our d.n.a. data, sequencing technology and analytics. how does b.g.i. partner with u.s. companies? >> evanina: so they do it, first of all, with money. so investment. i want to invest $10 million, $20 million, $80 million in your company. every company says yes, come on in. at the same time they're going to have an unwritten rule that they're going to be able to take that data and your sequencing capabilities. and what they don't know is china's keeping it and they're giving you a copy back. >> wertheim: b.g.i. declined our request for an interview and said in a statement, "the notion that the genomic data of american citizens is in any way compromised through the activities of b.g.i. in the u.s. is groundl organization" founded "to
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benefit human health and wellbeing." remember b.g.i.'s proposal to build covid testing labs for the state of washington? "60 minutes" learned that the company made similar proposals to more than five other states, including new york and california. and, after federal officials warned against partnering with b.g.i., each state said "no" to b.g.i.'s labs. it's not just china that's recognized what a valuable commodity your d.n.a. can be. as you'll hear when we come back, some of the fastest growing u.s. tech companies are in this space, as well. in fact, you may have already surrendered your d.n.a. by spitting in a tube. ( ticking ) >> cbs sports is presented by progressive insurance. today in california, patrick reed had a final round of 68
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( ticking ) >> wertheim: the financial stakes for dominating the global biotech sector, the industry that's bringing us the covid vaccine, are staggering, estimated to be worth up to $4 trillion a year-- for perspective, that's more than the valuation of amazon and
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apple combined. not surprisingly, many u.s. companies want a piece of that pie and recognize that control over the future of healthcare lies in collecting and then analyzing massive quantities of data. so, like china, they too are building up vast libraries of health information. there are undeniable benefits to this: potential cures and treatments, some already in use. but there's also a darker truth buried in the fine print: companies, including some of the ones that sell those popular genealogy test kits, could profit off of consumers and their private medical data. >> evanina: sometimes americans or people around the globe don't even know the value of their d.n.a., that-- that it even has value. but it's your single, sole identifier of everything about you as a human being. >> wertheim: bill evanina just stepped down as the top counterintelligence official at the directorate of national intelligence. i'm a victim of identity theft, i can get a new visa or amex.
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you get my genetic identity, i don't have a backup. >> evanina: that's correct. so it's your past and your future as well as your children's future. >> wertheim: so in recent years, millions of americans have given away their d.n.a. for ancestry searches. is that risky? >> evanina: it's very risky and i think the unknown is probably the riskiest part. >> wertheim: so risky in fact that the u.s. military recently issued a warning to all service members, instructing them not to use direct-to-consumer genealogy tests like those offered by ancestry, 23andme and other companies: "these... genetic tests are largely unregulated and could expose personal and genetic information, outside parties are exploiting the use of genetic data." >> evanina: the department of defense issued that proclamation saying, "please do not use these genetic services because we are not comfortable yet as a government to understand where that genetic data goes." >> wertheim: if it's bad for the military, we wondered why there are not government warnings to american consumers. already an estimated 50 million americans have paid a small fee
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and sent in their saliva, hoping for clues to what country their ancestors came from, relatives they may not know they have, or some other information about their health. genealogy firms are selling us on the use of d.n.a. as a consumer product. but supervisory special agent edward you of the f.b.i. says what they are really selling us is something else entirely. >> you: the return on investment is aggregating the data and what they can do with it once they have enough of it. >> wertheim: you're saying these-- these genealogy companies, the real value is everything you can do with this data set? >> you: the value is in the data. it-- it's not just the genealogy companies. everybody is looking at what kind of data do i have access to, how much do i have, and then how can i turn around and-- and monetize it. >> wertheim: that's where the money is? >> you: absolutely. >> wertheim: for example, just this past week, 23andme was reported to be in talks to go public, with a valuation of $4 billion. it's a common refrain in the
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world of biotech: data is the new oil, and it's all types of health data that might come from your smart-watch, your social media, your credit card. u.c. davis professor of law lisa ikemoto specializes in bioethics, and is studying how the new market for d.n.a. and health data is taking shape. it seems like a bit of a bait and switch. we pay 100 bucks, whatever it is, for our ancestry reports. and then they actually want to turn around and sell our genetic data. >> lisa ikemoto: that's what's being hidden. that you're allowing your personal information to be used by others. and that information's being transferred to third parties. and it's being for uses that you never imagined. >> wertheim: professor ikemoto is skeptical about whether true informed consent is being granted when we provide our d.n.a. and points out that most customers click "yes," giving permission for their data to be used for research. but ikemoto wonders if they realize what that really means. we printed out the privacy forms
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for 23andme and ancestry. and this, i mean, this is just a blizzard of paperwork and fine print. does anyone read these things? >> ikemoto: we're so used to filling out, sort of, scrolling through these long documents online to upload the app or whatever it is and then just clicking the "i agree" button at the end. >> wertheim: this is an ancestry form. "you grant royalty-free worldwide sub-licensable transferable license to host, transfer, process, analyze, distribute and communicate your genetic information." what does that mean in english? >> ikemoto: (laugh) i think you're giving up all rights. (laugh) and any potential commercial interest in the use of your d.n.a. by ancestrydna. >> wertheim: who are they selling the data to? who are the buyers here? >> ikemoto: most of the genealogy companies are partnering with pharmaceutical companies, biotech startups, established research institutions.
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>> wertheim: ancestry declined our interview request and said "ancestry does not sell consumer d.n.a. data" and "we do not have any for-profit research partnerships." genealogy companies told us that the data they do share for research is made anonymous and that the research is a force of good. but with those third party agreements to study disease and develop treatments can come investment dollars. 23andme has a partnership with glaxosmithkline, $300 million to develop drugs based on this d.n.a. is that a good thing or a bad thing? >> ikemoto: they might produce something very useful. in that sense, it's good. it means that 23andme and glaxosmithkline will make a huge amount of money. the people who provided all the cells and tissues or d.n.a. that's being used will make none. they'll be probably charged a lot of money for the drugs if they ever need them. >> wertheim: so we're providing the raw materials to create this product and then we have to pay for the product? >> ikemoto: yeah, that's exactly right.
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people are now being mined for their raw materials. it raises concerns about what it means to be human in this world. >> anne wojcicki: from the foundation of the company, we have always said, "if our customers can't trust us, we don't have a business." >> wertheim: c.e.o. and founder of 23andme anne wojcicki says her customers are making a conscious decision to contribute their d.n.a. for the benefit of society. >> wojcicki: when we started the company we sat down with the leading privacy experts. and what they taught me was that, "anne, privacy doesn't mean that your data's not shared anywhere." it means that we have choice. >> wertheim: what percent of your customers are opting in and then saying, "go ahead. use my d.n.a. for your research?" >> wojcicki: over 80% of our customers opt in. >> wertheim: but you're still choosing how and when and where their data is being used. >> wojcicki: we give people, so for instance, we have entered into a large collaboration with glaxosmithkline for therapeutic development. when we did that, we
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specifically emailed all of our customers. and we gave them the opportunity to either opt into research or to opt out of research. >> wertheim: but this idea that the value of this company is in the data. this is where the real growth potential is. your chief scientist said, "it's genius. people were paying us to build databases." >> wojcicki: what we have done is we have empowered individuals with this opportunity to come together, to crowd source research. and i absolutely stand behind: we are going to develop drugs. so that everyone is actually benefiting from the human genome. so absolutely the data is valuable. >> wertheim: i want to keep pushing you on this point. you're relying on the kindness of strangers. you're not paying them. they don't have a stake in is that a fair exchange? customers feel that the number one thing that we can do that is going to benefit them is the end result, which is: the end result
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is actually develop a drug. >> wertheim: that's a long way from learning more about your family's country of origin, and though they are using our d.n.a., what is essentially our barcode, for drug development, genealogy firms like 23andme are not subject to hipaa regulations. but wojcicki asserts her company's privacy policies are stronger than hipaa, anyway. other federal laws about the security of our data? they are patchwork and incomplete, according to lisa ikemoto. this message of trust us, what's your response to that? >> ikemoto: given 30 years of research, i'm not willing to give my trust to the biotech industry. i think it's probably true that the researchers who do this work have the best intentions, in most cases. but that doesn't mean that i can't be exploited in the process. >> wertheim: and then there's the issue of security. multiple consumer genealogy firms have been targeted by hackers in the past few years,
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putting our d.n.a. data at risk. both ancestry and 23andme told us they have not been breached. you agree the possibility of a hack is a serious, serious concern? >> wojcicki: anyone who tells you that a hack is not possible is lying. and so i have to make sure i'm doing everything that is reasonably possible on data security. and that i'm doing everything i can with transparency to make sure you trust us and that you are never surprised. >> wertheim: but you may be surprised about another potential security risk: how much money foreign firms, particularly chinese, are investing into u.s. companies that collect our biodata, according to former intelligence effort that the chineseamo government has put into investing in companies in the u.s., current estimates are 23 chinese-based or affiliated companies are operating inside the u.s. in consultation, collaboration, partnership, investment with u.s.-based companies. >> wertheim: china's reach has gotten so vast, it's drawn the
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attention of a little known but increasingly busy branch of the treasury department, the committee on foreign investment in the united states, or cfius. among its duties: sniffing out suspicious business deals. just a few months ago, a chinese firm was set to buy a san diego fertility clinic. in part because the fertility clinic is located near six u.s. military bases, cfius blocked the sale before it could take place. >> evanina: what if that fertility clinic sells all their capabilities and data to a company in china? all that data's gone. so all that capability of your unborn fetus, are now owned and operated by the chinese company. >> wertheim: in other words, the company could have had access to the d.n.a. not just of u.s. soldiers but of their unborn babies. evanina also expressed his concern to us that 23andme has some chinese investors. >> evanina: we know there's an investment in the chinese company in 23andme. what we don't know is, is there is a data sharing agreement with that company or not? >> wertheim: we asked 23andme c.e.o. anne wojcicki.
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she told us that the chinese investors have no access to the genetic information of the company's customers. but she does agree with bill evanina on one critical point, the chinese threat to u.s. biotech is real, and it's no exaggeration to say our future might depend on how we address it. >> wojcicki: what i've been most worried about, frankly, is that china is very publicly stating that they want to win in the genetic information revolution. we need to be super vigilant about china, you know-- you know, with any kind of data. but the issue is more that china is putting billions of dollars into their own genetic programs and we are not. >> wertheim: why aren't we investing like this? >> wojcicki: it's leadership. i need leadership at the top to say, "we need to have these types of large programs." i absolutely share the concern that the united states is underfunding genetic research. and i think that if we want to win the biotech genome revolution we need to start funding it.
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>> stahl: now, an update on a story we reported in october, when we interviewed alexei navalny, the russian opposition leader whom we called, "putin's public enemy." navalny was medevacked to berlin after being poisoned in siberia with the russian nerve agent novichok. it's a banned substance. >> it's a banned substance. i think for putin-- why-- he's using this chemical weapon to do-- do both, kill me and, you know, terrify others. >> stahl: the russian government denies responsibility for the near-fatal attack. this month, alexey navalny returned to russia and was thrown into jail, sparking protests in over 100 russian cities. on tuesday, president biden, in
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his first phone call with vladimir putin, pressed the russian president on navalny's poisoning and imprisonment, subjects not pursued by the previous white house. i'm lesley stahl. next sunday, cbs sports will be here with coverage of super bowl lv. we'll be back in two weeks with another edition of "60 minutes." ( ticking ) this is what community looks like. ♪ caring for each other, ♪ protecting each other. ♪ and as the covid vaccine rolls out, we'll be ready to administer it. since my dvt blood clot... i wasn't sure... was another around the corner?
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