Burns, selected by U.S. President Joe Biden as the first career diplomat to work as CIA chief, said in a National Public Radio interview that he has supported his agency's attempts to learn the cause of the syndrome and what is responsible.
He verified that among other steps, he tapped a senior officer who once led the quest for Osama bin Laden to oversee a task force studying the syndrome, and said he tripled the size of the medical team involved in the investigation.
The agency also has shortened from eight weeks to two weeks the time that CIA-related people must wait for access to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he said.
"It's a profound obligation I think of any leader to take care of your people and that is what I am determined to do," Burns told NPR in his first interview since becoming CIA director in March.
Havana Syndrome, with symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, migraines, and memory lapses, is so named because it first was reported by U.S. officials based in the U.S. embassy in Cuba in 2016.
Burns noted that the U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel in December found that a likely theory is that "directed energy" beams created the syndrome.
There is a "very strong possibility" that the syndrome is deliberately caused, and that Russia could be responsible, he said, adding that he is withholding definitive conclusions pending further investigation.
A surging number of diplomats and other government personnel, mainly based abroad, have felt a strange and often debilitating set of symptoms, causing a series of government and scientific probes into what some officials have called anomalous health incidents and others refer to as attacks. Here’s a primer on what is and isn’t known.
Since the first cases, diplomats and intelligence officers posted around the world have undergone similar signs. Those who experienced it reported a variety of conditions including dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, cognitive difficulties and memory loss of varying severity. In some examples, diplomats and intelligence officers have left active service due to complications from the condition.
The first evidence of the illness emerged in U.S. and Canadian personnel stationed in Cuba in late 2016. The State Department also listed potential cases in China in 2018, removing State Department employees and their families from the city of Guangzhou after cases were reported there. Diplomats and intelligence personnel in Russia, Poland, Georgia, and Taiwan have also reportedly been affected.