China Gave Imperfect Data on Coronavirus Epidemic: Pompeo

March 6, 2020 Updated: March 6, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

China has delivered imperfect data on the new coronavirus, which emerged in the country in late 2019 before spreading to more than 50 countries around the world, a top U.S. official said on Friday.

“Remember, this is the Wuhan coronavirus that’s caused this,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, using a colloquial name for SARS-CoV-2, the new virus. “And the information that we got at the front end of this thing wasn’t perfect and has led us now to a place where much of the challenge we face today has put us behind the curve.”

Infectious disease doctors have told Pompeo that how the situation unfolded isn’t the way it should have gone, the secretary of state said during an appearance on CNBC.

“It has proven incredibly frustrating to work with the Chinese Communist Party to get our hands around the dataset, which will ultimately be the solution to both getting the vaccine and attacking this risk,” Pompeo said.

The recent claims from Chinese authorities that the virus might not have originated in China directly contradict the communist regime’s earlier statements that the virus came from Wuhan, a city of some 11 million in China where thousands of people have been infected, he added.

Epoch Times Photo
A community worker in protective suit disinfects a residential compound in Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Hubei Province, China on March 6, 2020. (Stringer/Reuters)
Epoch Times Photo
A man wears a mask around his neck as he rides a subway in Manhattan in New York City on March 5, 2020. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

“We have pretty high confidence that we know where this began and we have high confidence, too, that there was information that could have been made available more quickly, and data that could have been provided and shared among health professionals across the world,” he said. “It’s most unfortunate.”

Pompeo’s criticism of China is the latest from the White House. Larry Kudlow, a top adviser to President Donald Trump, said last month that U.S. leaders were “disappointed” with the way China handled the epidemic.

“I wish we did know more. You know, this should not be about politics or for that matter, trade. This is just plain, ordinary health, public health, to help people,” Kudlow told reporters in Washington.

“We have very good trade deal with them and so forth. But, on this particular matter, we are quite disappointed in China’s response,” said Kudlow, the National Economic Council director.

China for weeks blocked U.S. experts from entering the country to study the virus, ultimately only allowing a few to enter as part of a World Health Organization (WHO) team.

The team produced a report with Chinese health officials that largely praised the Chinese response to the virus and WHO officials have maintained that the actions China took helped delay the spread of the virus to other countries.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber