Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, on Tuesday suggested that the U.S. was slow to respond to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic because of faulty data reported by China.
“When you looked at the China data originally,” with 50,000 infected in an area of China with 80 million people, “you start thinking of this more like SARS than you do a global pandemic,” Birx said at a press conference.
Pandemic expert Dr. Deborah Birx says U.S. officials initially responded to the coronavirus outbreak the way that they did because they thought it was going to be "more like SARS" and not a "global pandemic" *BECAUSE* "we were missing a significant amount of the data" from China pic.twitter.com/yFkzqqDBHh
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 1, 2020
“The medical community interpreted the Chinese data as, this was serious, but smaller than anyone expected,” Birx continued. “Because, probably…we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that we see what happened to Italy and we see what happened to Spain.”
Birx was appointed to the Task Force on February 26, when coronavirus cases in all of China were reported at 78,497. At the time, there were over 50,000 cases in Hubei Province, home to the city of Wuhan and the epicenter of the pandemic.
China has been accused of hiding the true amount of coronavirus cases as well as the number of dead. Wuhan residents have reported crematoria working “around the clock,” and at least one funeral home received a shipment of 5,000 urns in two days, eclipsing the 3,000 deaths reported in all of China.
Other reports have filtered out of the country indicating the Chinese government has not lifted quarantine measures for large segments of the population, and in some cases lifted restrictions on public gatherings only to immediately impose the restrictions again.