Republican Lawmakers Call for CDC Attention to ‘Suspicious’ Viral Outbreak in China

“We cannot allow the CCP to block the CDC from accessing the information it needs to protect Americans,” the Republicans wrote.
Republican Lawmakers Call for CDC Attention to ‘Suspicious’ Viral Outbreak in China
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta on Aug. 25, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Eva Fu

Top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are calling on U.S. health authorities to look into the “suspicious” clusters of viral infections and reports of pneumonia among children in China, warning that it would be an abdication of their duty if they were to allow the regime in Beijing to “repeat its misdeeds from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a Nov. 29 letter addressed to Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) Director Dr. Mandy Cohen, the lawmakers underscored the Chinese regime’s repeated efforts to suppress information about the burgeoning COVID-19 crisis when it began to spread in China about four years ago. Such actions by China have drawn criticism from international bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which, the lawmakers noted, “has long been criticized for being overly accommodating to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”

Dr. Cohen was scheduled to testify before the committee’s oversight subcommittee on Nov. 30.

The respiratory illnesses and cases of pneumonia among children in China have overwhelmed hospitals and alarmed the WHO, which is urging China to share data about the outbreak. Anecdotal reports also indicate that children are transmitting the illness to other family members, including adults.

Chinese authorities have responded by saying that they have detected no “unusual or novel pathogens or unusual clinical presentations,” and only a “general increase in respiratory illnesses due to multiple known pathogens,” according to a WHO statement on Nov. 23. It cited Chinese officials as further stating that “the rise in respiratory illness has not resulted in patient loads exceeding hospital capacities.”

Three Republican lawmakers, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Brett Guthrie (R-Va.), and Morgan Griffith (R-Va.)—while expressing skepticism about the WHO—are asking the CDC to step up.

“The American people should not have to rely on the unaccountable and untrustworthy WHO to communicate information about Chinese public health threats,“ they wrote in the letter. ”Further, we cannot allow the CCP to block the CDC from accessing the information it needs to protect Americans and assist in appropriate public health response efforts.”

They requested that the CDC brief the committee on a biweekly basis on the issue and respond to a list of questions about the wave of respiratory illnesses in China by Dec. 13, including whether the CDC has engaged with its Chinese counterparts regarding the outbreak issue, related details, and its plan of action.

“There’s no question that we should be taking a hard look at it and not counting on them to give us the real facts,” Mr. Griffith, chairman of the subcommittee on oversight and investigations, told Epoch Times sister media outlet NTD. “We need to figure out what we need to do to protect ourselves from a disease that’s in China, from coming here, if we can.”

From the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC tried to offer assistance to China. Letters obtained by The Epoch Times showed that then-CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, had attempted to arrange for a team of experts to fly to China to help identify the virus. While the United States and allies made nearly 100 offers to assist China in the health crisis, the regime rejected them all, according to David Asher, a former lead COVID-19 investigator at the U.S. State Department.
Now, concerns about overcrowded hospitals and long lines for medical attention have led China’s top health body, the National Health Commission, to call for local clinics to boost their capacity.

Chinese People on the Front Line

While Chinese authorities haven’t provided any data on the current outbreak, many schools are telling students to stay home because of the large number of sick children.

A woman from Yunnan Province in southwestern China says all four of her children are experiencing fever. One of them has had a fever for half a month, along with the appearance of facial pimples, and a swollen and festering throat.

“The doctor didn’t tell us much and prescribed us some drugs. We’ve been taking them, but there hasn’t been much effect,” she told The Epoch Times.

Beijing resident Ms. Lin said her two children spread the illness to her and her husband after they became ill. At the childrens’ school, parents have been asked to send digital requests for a leave of absence to a group chat monitored by teachers if their children become sick.

“Every day, we would see some children explaining why they can’t come to school,” she told The Epoch Times. Most sick students are coughing. And even days after their symptoms go away, some of the children would start coughing again or develop fever soon after they returned to school, she said.