China’s failure to provide access to global health experts made the COVID-19 pandemic worse than it had to be, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Sunday, and it was important to “get to the bottom” of the origin of the novel coronavirus.
The top U.S. diplomat’s sharp words underscored criticism from other members of the Biden administration over Beijing’s lack of transparency in the crucial early days of the pandemic.
China did not give access to international experts or share information in real time to provide true transparency, Blinken said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
As a result, the virus “got out of hand faster and with, I think, much more egregious results than it might otherwise,” Blinken said.
The World Health Organization director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on March 30 that data was withheld from WHO investigators who traveled to China to research the origins of the pandemic.
A WHO report, written jointly with Chinese scientists, released at the time said the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal, and that a lab leak was “extremely unlikely” as a cause.
Tedros said the issue required further investigation.