- Dr. Anthony Fauci addressed the early coronavirus outbreak in China in a new interview, criticizing the country’s lack of transparency at the time.
- The infectious disease expert said that China maintained for weeks that there was no human-to-human COVID-19 transmission when that was exactly what was happening.
- Chinese authorities who did not allow scientists to speak freely did a “disservice,” Fauci said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, is a key member of the White House coronavirus task force and one of the most trusted voices of COVID-19 news. Fauci has regularly addressed the most pressing concerns regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic, offering plenty of updates on the government’s response to the health crisis. Fauci delivered the first good news about remdesivir, the only drug approved for emergency use, and has provided timely updates about ongoing vaccine efforts and other drugs.
It was also Fauci who delivered the bad news about the virus, saying that COVID-19 isn’t likely to be eradicated and that vaccines might turn out to provide limited immunity that won’t last longer than a year. He warned against the use of hydroxychloroquine without scientific evidence to back it up, he talked about opening the economy, and he even addressed the recent protests against police brutality and their potential effect on the spread of the virus. Fauci also addressed conspiracy theories about the coronavirus originating from a lab in China, noting that there’s no scientific evidence to back up those claims. But the expert just criticized the country where it all started more than six months ago for not being transparent in the early days of the outbreak.
“I think the Chinese authorities that did not allow the scientists to speak out as openly and transparently as they could really did a disservice,” Fauci said during an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis, per Newsweek.
“At the beginning of the outbreak, they were claiming that this was just animal-to-human transmission,” he said. “And there really wasn’t a human-to-human transmission at all. And they held that line for a few weeks. And then it became very clear when the scientists were able to talk about it, that, in fact, there was human-to-human transmission.”
“Yes, it’s another example of the unfortunate situation of lack of transparency early on,” the doctor added.
China saw plenty of criticism for the way it handled the COVID-19 crisis early on, delaying vital revelations such as the fact that the virus can spread between humans. China may have wasted precious time early on as a result. China did implement severe restrictions once it realized the gravity of the situation, but the virus had already spread to other regions.
In the months that followed, China’s COVID-19 statistics were questioned, as they rarely matched the figures elsewhere. The outbreaks that developed in Europe and the US seemed to be more devastating, claiming tens of thousands of lives. China had to revise its COVID-19 death toll on one occasion. More recently, the country said it tested 10 million people in Wuhan in less than three weeks, which is a massive achievement for any administration. But China said it only discovered some 300 asymptomatic patients, none of which were contagious, and who were not counted in the official statistics.
Before that, China started changing the origin story of the virus, saying the pandemic hadn’t started in a lab, as some Western officials and conspiracy theorists claimed. However, China also said the virus didn’t start spreading in the Wuhan market, without specifying where it might have come from. China has never still shared the identity of COVID-19 Patient Zero with the world.
In other words, there are plenty of reasons to question China’s transparency when it comes to coronavirus information. And Fauci’s stance on the matter is hardly surprising.