Modelers used data from the Chinese Communist Party that internal documents obtained by The Epoch Times show was manipulated. Those models were relied on by health experts to implement certain measures.
The models would have looked different if the real situation in China was made clear to the world, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the task force.
“When you look at the China data originally and said, oh, well, there’s 80 million people, 20 million people in Wuhan, 80 million people in Hubei [province], and they come up with a number of 50,000, you start thinking of this more like SARS than you do this kind of global pandemic,” Birx said.
The medical community interpreted the data as the outbreak being serious “but smaller than anyone expected,” she added. “Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that we see what happened to Italy, what happened to Spain.”
“In a perfect world, it would have been nice to know what was going on there. We didn’t,” added Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Birx added later in the week that officials didn’t realize at first “how contagious” the virus was. “And I think when you make misassumptions around contagion early on, then you don’t prepare in the way that you should prepare for the level of contagion that this COVID-19 exhibits,” she said during a Fox News town hall on April 2.
China said on March 31 it would start reporting cases of asymptomatic carriers of the virus after initially denying the carriers posed risks. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, up to 25 percent of those infected with the virus don’t show symptoms, and people without symptoms spread the virus to others. Those findings are spurring discussions about recommending the general public wear masks when going out.
American officials have repeatedly criticized China for covering up the true extent of the CCP virus outbreak in the country.
Chinese officials worked to suppress information about the outbreak instead of trying to suppress the virus itself, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in mid-March. Chinese leaders have continued denying information to the world, Pompeo has said in recent weeks.
The coverup probably cost the world two months to respond, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said last month.
Countries in the Group of Seven agreed to push back against Beijing’s sprawling propaganda campaign designed to deflect blame for causing the global pandemic, Pompeo said last week.
In recent weeks, Chinese senior officials and scientists have claimed that the virus didn’t originate from China. On Twitter, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry pushed the unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus was introduced to China by U.S. Army personnel.
Cathy He and Nicole Hao contributed to this report.