US officials believe China has concealed the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, and how contagious the disease is, to accumulate necessary medical supplies to respond, US intelligence documents show.
Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January, according to a four-page intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) dated May 1, obtained by The Associated Press. The revelation comes as the Trump administration intensifies its criticism of China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that China was responsible for the spread of the disease and must be held accountable.
The strongest rhetoric against the Chinese government coincides with criticism against the US administration that the government’s response to the virus was slow and inadequate. Political opponents of President Donald Trump accused him of lashing out at China, a geopolitical enemy but a critical trade partner of the United States, in an attempt to deflect criticism in his country.
The analysis not classified but marked “for official use only” states that, while minimizing the severity of the coronavirus, China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies. He tried to cover it up “by denying export restrictions and delaying the provision of his trade data,” the document said.
The report also says that China was slow to inform the World Health Organization (WHO) that the coronavirus is severely contagious for much of January so it could order medical supplies from abroad, dramatically increasing the import of face masks, surgical gowns. and gloves.
Those conclusions are based on the 95% probability that China’s changes in imports and export behavior were not within the normal range, according to the report.
In a tweet on Sunday, the president appeared to blame US intelligence officials for failing to clarify beforehand how dangerous a possible coronavirus outbreak could be. Trump has been defensive about whether he failed to act after receiving early warnings from intelligence officials and others about the coronavirus and its potential impact.
“Intelligence just informed me that I was correct and that they did NOT bring up the CoronaVirus issue until the end of January, just before I banned (the entry of) China into the United States,” Trump wrote without citing details. “Also, they only talked about the virus in a not very threatening way.”
Trump had previously speculated that China could have unleashed the coronavirus due to some sort of horrible “mistake.” His intelligence agencies say they are still examining a notion put forth by the president and aides that the pandemic may have resulted from an accident in a Chinese laboratory.
The US intelligence services do not rule out the possibility that the coronavirus that caused the global pandemic may have accidentally come out of a laboratory in China.
Speaking on ABC on “This Week” Sunday, Pompeo said he had no reason to believe the virus was deliberately spread. But he added: “Remember, China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running inferior quality laboratories.”
“These are not the first times that we have had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failure in a Chinese laboratory,” Pompeo said. “And so, as the intelligence community continues to do its work, they should continue to do it and check to be sure, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”
The secretary of state appeared to refer to previous outbreaks of respiratory viruses, such as SARS, that started in China. His comment may be seen as offensive in China. Still, Pompeo repeated the same statement hours later, through a tweet on Sunday afternoon.
The drug Remdesivir has shown improvement in most patients. However, it has not been approved by the FDA for use as a coronavirus treatment.
Speaking on Sunday on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, echoed that sentiment, saying he believes China “is the most serious geopolitical threat to the United States for the next century.”
“The communist government in China has an enormous responsibility, an enormous direct guilt for this pandemic. We know they covered it up, “said Cruz. “If they had behaved responsibly and sent health professionals and quarantined the infected people, there is a real possibility that this was a regional outbreak and not a global pandemic.” And the hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide are, in a very real sense, the direct responsibility of the lies of the Chinese communist government. “
A study in China indicated that several people who were ill with coronaviruses developed neurological problems.