A trove of confidential documents obtained by CNN has lifted the lid on China’s mishandling of the early days of the pandemic.
The leaked files, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Hubei province — where the novel coronavirus was first detected late last year — show evidence of clear missteps and point to a pattern of institutional failings, Nick Paton Walsh reports.
Here are some of the key findings:
- Chinese officials gave the world more optimistic data than they had access to internally, by initially underreporting case numbers.
- China’s system took on average 23 days to diagnose confirmed patients, and testing failures meant most people received negative results until January 10.
- A history of underfunding, understaffing, poor morale and bureaucratic models of governance hampered China’s early warning system, internal audits found.
- A large and previously undisclosed outbreak of influenza happened in early December 2019 in Hubei province.
China has steadfastly rejected accusations made by the US and other Western governments that it deliberately concealed information relating to the virus, maintaining that it has been upfront since the beginning of the outbreak. However, though the documents provide no evidence of a deliberate attempt to obfuscate findings, they do reveal numerous inconsistencies in what authorities believed to be happening and what was revealed to the public.
Taken together, the documents amount to the most significant leak from inside China since the beginning of the pandemic and provide the first clear window into what local authorities knew internally and when.
China’s government and health officials did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: When can I get a coronavirus vaccine?
A: In the US, federal government officials are promising coronavirus vaccines soon — some even before Christmas — and states are gearing up to begin vaccinating Americans sometime in December. But those doses will probably be reserved for health care workers, while the rest of the population is going to have to wait for months.
Healthy adults under the age of 65 and children may well have to wait until late spring or even the summer, depending on how many vaccines get approved, how quickly they can be manufactured and distributed, and how the debate goes over allocation. Here’s a look at what to expect from the coming coronavirus vaccination campaign.
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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
Trump demands to know why Pfizer vaccine hasn’t been approved
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is set to meet the FDA commissioner in the West Wing today, as President Trump has privately demanded to know why his agency hasn’t granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine yet, according to two sources. Trump has become privately frustrated over how long the process is taking, after proudly and publicly admitting to pressuring the FDA to move faster.
Pfizer applied for an EUA on November 20 and Moderna applied for it yesterday. The FDA is scheduled to meet with its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on December 10 to review Pfizer’s application, and a week later to review Moderna’s application. States have until Friday to request Pfizer vaccine doses. Today, Pfizer sought vaccine approval from the European Union, which could enable its use there by the end of this year.
Most Americans who want to be vaccinated will be able to do so by April or May of 2021, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “As long as you’re susceptible, you are part of the problem,” Fauci told Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “If you want to be part of the solution, get vaccinated and say, ‘I’m not going to be one of the people that’s going to be a stepping stone for the virus to go to somebody else. I’m going to be a dead end to the virus.'”
Scott Atlas resigns from Trump administration
Dr. Scott Atlas, a highly controversial member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, has resigned from his post. Atlas adopted a public stance on the virus much closer to the President’s — echoing Trump’s misleading claims about masks and pushing for the resumption of college sports.
He gained enemies for reportedly pushing the widely panned “herd immunity” strategy — he denied the claim, but an administration official told CNN in October that all of the policies Atlas pushed for were in that vein. A source close to the task force told CNN on Monday that Atlas’ departure came as welcome news, as his discredited theories will no longer have a seat at the table.
F1 star Lewis Hamilton to miss Bahrain race after positive Covid-19 test
Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will miss this weekend’s Grand Prix in Bahrain after testing positive for Covid-19. His Mercedes team said Hamilton was self-isolating and had only mild symptoms.
ON OUR RADAR
- More people passed through US airport security checkpoints on Sunday than on any other single day since the pandemic cratered air travel.
- An NFL game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers has been delayed for a third time as the Ravens struggle to manage a Covid-19 outbreak.
- A doctor in Texas, pictured cradling a distraught Covid-19 patient, has pleaded with the public to help halt the outbreak after he worked nonstop for 256 days.
- Denmark will dig up thousands of dead mink that were culled to prevent spread of Covid-19, after their bodies emerged from mass graves. It is believed the gas used to kill them caused the carcasses to swell and resurface, prompting Danish media to dub them “zombie mink.”
- Hosts of Radio Indígena were among the first who could explain the virus to indigenous Mexican farmworkers in US, thanks to their ability to switch between Spanish, Mixteco and other indigenous languages.
- ‘Pandemic’ is, unsurprisingly, the Word of the Year for Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com. It informed top searches on both sites and reshaped the language we use daily, both companies said.
- Celebrity chef David Chang won $1 million on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” He’s giving it all to restaurant workers impacted by the outbreak.
“People live off check after check after check. Now I’m living boxes after boxes after boxes.” — Rose Rodriguez, whose family relies on the South Los Angeles Salvation Army center.
Millions of families across the US have lost income because of the pandemic and are struggling to put food on the table. In today’s episode, CNN’s Senior National Correspondent Kyung Lah visits one family in Los Angeles. Listen Now.