Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a news conference on Operation Warp Speed and COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
UPDATED 7:59 AM PT – Friday, January 15, 2021
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar recently slammed China for its failure to cooperate globally during the coronavirus pandemic. During a virtual session with the Heritage Foundation on Thursday, he said China’s slow response in alerting the U.S. wasted valuable time back in January 2020.
“As anyone involved in emergency response knows, the early actions you take are crucial…they help lay the groundwork for the months that follow,” Azar explained. “You have to make decisions based on the information you have at the time, and that information was severely limited by the fact that this virus emerged in China and that it was a novel pathogen.”
The HHS secretary cited reports suggesting China was aware of COVID-19 as early as November, but it was the people of Taiwan that officially alerted the U.S.
“We had been denied the chance to learn about the virus by the country where it originated…being able to investigate the virus in January would have helped the United States and the world develop a science and data response,” he explained. “Instead, we were flying blind with human-to-human transmission of the virus not officially confirmed until January 20.”
Nevertheless, Azar said U.S. officials are still making attempts to work with Chinese health officials.