Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized China on Sunday over what he said was a “failure” by authorities to provide international experts with information about the coronavirus early on in the pandemic.
Blinken said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that China’s actions meant that the virus “got out of hand faster” and led to “much more egregious results” than if Beijing had been more transparent at the beginning of the outbreak.
“I think China knows that in the early stages of COVID, it didn’t do what it needed to do, which was to in real time give access to international experts, in real time to share information, in real time to provide real transparency,” said Blinken.
The Chinese government has come under intense scrutiny over its response to the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan in December 2019.
On Jan. 14, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) tweeted out an assurance from Chinese authorities that there was no evidence that the virus spread from person to person. At the time, there was ample evidence inside China that the virus was spreading rapidly through human contact.
Both the Biden and Trump administrations have criticized the Chinese government and WHO over a joint investigation into the origins of the virus.
U.S. officials have said that China and WHO have been too quick to dismiss the possibility that the virus originated from a leak in a lab in Wuhan. (RELATED: Jake Sullivan Has ‘Deep Concerns’ Over WHO’s Wuhan Investigation)
Blinken said Sunday that a more thorough investigation into the origins of the virus is needed “in order to have the best shot possible at preventing it from happening again.”
Blinken also said that WHO will need to implement reforms to prevent another information breakdown in future pandemics.
“We also have to put in place a stronger global health security system to make sure that this doesn’t happen again or, if it does happen again, we’re able to mitigate it, to get ahead of it. And that means making a real commitment to transparency, to information sharing, to access for experts,” Blinken said.
“It means strengthening the World Health Organization and reforming it so it can do that. And China has to play a part in that.”
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