White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx said during a Thursday Fox News town hall meeting that because of China’s false data reporting about its own COVID-19 outbreak, “We didn’t know how contagious” the virus was at the early stages of the pandemic.
She pointed out that China’s early claim that the virus wasn’t transmitted in human-to-human fashion slowed the American response to the outbreak and that underreporting of cases and deaths caused health experts to think it was more akin to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that spread starting in 2002 than to the highly contagious virus it turned out to be.
“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,” Birx said.
A recent classified intelligence report concluded that China was lying about the extent of its outbreak and that the actual number of cases and deaths in that nationl could be many times higher than reported, according to Bloomberg.
Birx blames China
Birx again blamed incomplete Chinese data for early misconceptions about the virus in remarks she made on Tuesday.
“The medical community made — interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain,” Birx said, according to Fox News.
U.S. intelligence officials say that China knew about the virus two months before they reported it, Fox reported. If China had been more forthcoming, the virus might have been contained instead of spreading around the world, according to Birx.
“When you looked at the China data originally, you start thinking of this more like SARS than you do a global pandemic,” Birx said of the team’s initial assessment. At the time, China was reporting 50,000 cases of infection in an area of roughly 80 million people.
Besides providing faulty initial reporting, China also didn’t immediately share information about the possibility that the virus could be spread through surface contact or that asymptomatic infected people could be contagious, Birx said, according to Breitbart.
Quest for truth
Recent reports from China suggest that the death toll there may still be rising even though very few new infections have been officially reported in recent weeks, according to National Review. One particular media account that was later censored revealed that crematories are still working 24 hours a day in Wuhan, and thousands of urns have been delivered to a single funeral home in the span of just a few days.
People living in the Wuhan area of China suspect that the true death toll in that city alone could be upwards of 40,000, according to National Review.
Hopefully, the truth of how a pandemic that has ravaged the globe was allowed to get so out of hand will ultimately be revealed, and some measure of accountability can be obtained.