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National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien ‘Wouldn’t Be Surprised’ If China Steals US Coronavirus Vaccine

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien on Sunday suggested that the Chinese Community Party would very likely try to steal American developments on a coronavirus vaccine.

During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” O’Brien predicted that the United States would be the first country to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. But he added that the Chinese government has been working diligently to steal the U.S. government’s coronavirus vaccine research — and he “wouldn’t be surprised” if their espionage efforts succeeded.

“I think we’re going to develop a vaccine first,” the president’s adviser said on Sunday. “Now, there’s a chance, and it has been reported that the Chinese have been engaged in espionage to try and find the research and the technologies that we’re working on — both for a vaccine and a therapy.”

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“Look, they’ve got a many, many year history of stealing American intellectual property and knocking off American technology, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did that with the vaccines,” O’Brien said.

The comments come as the U.S. begins to open back up its economy and as state governments unwind their quarantine orders. Meanwhile, health professionals across the country are working on a vaccine for the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump has assembled leaders to head up the Manhattan Project-style “Operation Warp Speed,” with the goal of developing a vaccine by the fall of this year. Initial projections in January predicted that vaccine wouldn’t be developed for 12 to 18 months, but the White House’s project seeks to reduce that time by as much as eight months.

The Trump administration has already publicly accused the Chinese government of attempting to steal U.S. research into COVID-19. Internet hackers linked to Beijing have attempted to pilfer U.S. research into vaccines and treatment, the FBI said earlier this month. (RELATED: Trump Admin Accuses China-Backed Hackers Of Trying To Steal Coronavirus Research)

Nevertheless, O’Brien on Sunday reiterated the Trump administration’s position that, when a vaccine is developed by U.S. officials, it would be shared with the international community.

“One of the things the president has said, if we have a vaccine, we’re going to share it with the whole world,” the top White House adviser said.

“This is a virus unleashed by China,” he added, accusing the Chinese government of exacerbating the spread of the disease by attempting to cover it up during the outbreak’s early stages in Wuhan. “The Chinese knew this was happening in November, December, January, and were getting false information to the [World Health Organization].”

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