• The coronavirus’ toll on China was surpassed a while ago now by the number of infections and deaths in the US — a fact that the Chinese health expert who’s basically the equivalent of Dr. Fauci pointed out in a new interview contrasting both countries’ responses to the pandemic.
  • Zhong Nanshan is a top infectious disease expert in China who said he’s “shocked” at the coronavirus death toll in the United States.
  • He blamed part of the problem on President Trump, who he said dramatically underestimated the coronavirus. “He thought it was a big flu.”

As the war of words between the US and China continues to ratchet up thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the health expert who’s basically the Dr. Fauci of China has decided to pour a little salt into the wound and used a new interview to express his shock at the US death toll from coronavirus. While, naturally, praising the response of China to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking with the South China Morning Post, infectious disease expert Zhong Nanshan also gently chided an overall failure in the US to listen to medical experts, as well as President Trump for having “underestimated” the virus that’s infected almost 1.7 million Americans and killed nearly 100,000 as of the time of this writing. That’s according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University. “We need to find out more (about the coronavirus),” Nanshan said. “It is especially important for scientists to work together to investigate at a time like this, and I totally support that. But this has become very difficult now because (some politicians) have politicized the issues.

“(Some people) have got this preconceived idea that China is the origin (of the virus), and this has made it impossible to carry out research correctly.”

This comes just days after the Chinese Foreign Ministry published a scathing response to coronavirus-related claims the US has made about China. “Reality Check: What has happened is an unexpected attack by an unknown virus against human beings,” the response notes at one point. “It takes time to study and understand it. China has provided timely information to the world in an open, transparent, and responsible manner.”

Nanshan, the 83-year-old director of China’s National Clinical Research Centre for Respiratory Disease, struck the same note in his conversation with the Chinese media outlet, acknowledging that, sure, the US can praise itself for the number of tests that have been conducted. “But the heavy casualties still shocked me.” His own country, meanwhile, is far enough along in its response to the virus that it now reportedly has a vaccine candidate that can kill the virus in humans.

On President Trump: Nanshan said he “underestimated the disease’s infectious power as well as its harmful nature. He thought it was a big flu.”

On the US reopening right now: “Of course, (the economy) is very important for any country, but this problem (of reopening the US) has not been handled well.”

On the criticism that China was too secretive about the virus: “Even if we may have been delayed, by January 23 our expert groups had given clear warnings that human transmissions had occurred and there had been infections among medical personnel. But the US only declared a national emergency on March 13. I really can’t see how this can be a cover-up.”


Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.