By RACHEL SHARP
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cast doubt on the data coming out of Beijing and said he doesn’t ‘feel confident at all’ that China’s ‘low number’ of cases and deaths are accurate.
He also raised questions over when the virus was discovered, fueling growing suspicions that China covered up the scale of its early outbreak.
‘I mean I think any of us who have been dealing with this now for the last few months don’t feel confident at all that we have all of the data of the originally infected individuals, how long there were people in the circulation or even now, how many deaths there really are in China,’ Fauci told Fox News Thursday.
‘That number’s really rather a low number, that number surprises me that that number is so low.
‘But then again you know it is what it is, it’s behind us, lets’s move ahead and address our own problem.’
Fauci’s comments came just hours before China revised its death toll in coronavirus ground-zero Wuhan, upping its fatalities by almost 50 percent.
In a social media post, the city government added 1,290 deaths to the tally, bringing its total to 3,869.
Wuhan’s epidemic prevention and control headquarters claimed many deaths had been ‘mistakenly reported’ or missed entirely.
Officials blamed insufficient testing and treatment facilities, some patients dying at home meaning they were not counted in the toll, and medical staff being overwhelmed by cases for the ‘late reporting, omissions or mis-reporting’.
The change also pushes the nationwide death toll up by nearly 39 percent to 4,632, based on official national data released earlier on Friday.
Total confirmed cases in the city of 11 million also rose by 325 to 50,333, accounting for about two-thirds of China’s total 82,367 announced cases.
The rare admission of mistakes from Chinese officials comes as the nation faces increased scrutiny over its handling of the pandemic.
US officials have repeatedly raised doubts over the numbers of fatalities and infections coming out of China, after more than 36,000 Americans have died and 690,000 have been infected with the deadly virus.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday he does not trust Chinese leaders are being truthful about the global crisis even now.
The Pentagon chief accused Beijing of misleading Washington, in an NBC interview Thursday.
‘They’ve been misleading us, they’ve been opaque if you will from the early days of this virus. So I don’t have much faith that they’re even being truthful with us now,’ he said.
Reports have also surfaced that the Chinese government waited six days before warning the public about the outbreak of the deadly virus.
Suspicions are also mounting over the origin of the virus.
The global pandemic originally emerged in Wuhan, with Chinese officials maintaining that it came from a ‘wet market’ where exotic wild animals are sold for human consumption.
But President Donald Trump announced Wednesday the US is investigating claims the virus could have originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology Lab.
A growing theory has emerged that ‘patient zero’, who worked at the Wuhan lab where experiments were being carried out on bats, contracted the infection in a lab accident and then spread the virus into the local population after leaving work.
US intelligence officials have launched a probe into the matter and are updating lawmakers on their findings, according to a CBS report this week.
Senator for Arizona Martha McSally told Fox News this week there is ‘zero doubt’ China has ‘American blood on its hands’.
‘There is zero doubt that the Chinese communist government has American blood on its hands.
‘They put American lives at risk by covering up the origin and scope of the coronavirus crisis,’ she said.
China has repeatedly refuted claims the virus originated in the lab and hit backat the US Friday telling it to mind its own business and to stop putting a political spin on the global pandemic.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said China had an ‘open, transparent and responsible’ attitude to the pandemic and praised the country’s ‘most comprehensive, strictest and most rigorous’ prevention measures, during a daily briefing in Beijing on Friday.
He slammed the theory that the virus originated in the Wuhan lab: ‘Anybody with any sense would know that [America’s] aim is to muddy the waters, divert people’s attention and evade its responsibilities.’
Political tensions between China and the US have escalated after the two countries both accused each other of being the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump initially showered praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping for the country’s response to the crisis, before he began placing blame on the nation.
Chinese officials responded by shifting blame back to the US, with foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian tweeting in March: ‘It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.’
He made the comments during an interview on Fox’s Outnumbered Overtime after it emerged that US intelligence officials are investigating whether the virus could have leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan.
Cotton said that even if there was a lack of ‘conclusive evidence’ on where the virus originated, the cover up in the weeks following the outbreak allowed the disease to spread beyond China to wreak havoc on the rest of the world.
China has strongly refuted claims that coronavirus could have first crossed to humans accidentally during experiments with bats at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Lab.
‘Even if we can’t establish it conclusively, we still know that they covered up this virus for weeks in December and January when they could have been forthright, when they could have tried to arrest its spread in Wuhan,’ Cotton said.
‘But instead they made this decision deliberately to allow this virus to spread around the world.
‘In my opinion, Xi Jinping had decided if China is going to suffer then the rest of the world, especially the United States, is going to suffer, and there has to be consequences to those actions.’
Cotton also commented: ‘There is a lot of circumstantial evidence to point to those labs as the sources of this pandemic.
‘There’s virtually no evidence, circumstantial or direct, to point to a food market in Wuhan.
‘It just takes a little bit of common sense to say that the Chinese Communist Party needs to be held responsible.’
It comes after a report by Fox News in which multiple sources claimed investigations are underway to determine if coronavirus could have first crossed to humans during experiments with bats at the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory.
Danielle DiMartino Booth, an author and the founder of consulting firm MoneyStrong, said Beijing officials were aware of the deadly disease spreading in Wuhan last November and allowed it to snowball into a global pandemic.
She said Chinese officials had countless lives on their hands and should be hauled before an international court as their ‘under-reporting’ did not afford the rest of the world time to enforce border restrictions.
The economist points to a ‘pandemic clause’ in the January trade deal between Washington and Beijing, which she believes is evidence the Communist regime knew the extent of their crisis while publicly downplaying it.
DiMartino Booth said: ‘The World Health Organisation should be held accountable for not holding China accountable to providing good valid data so the rest of the world could prepare for fewer people to die.
‘And that’s what you’re talking about. To me these are equivalent to acts of war.’
She also said reports of a virus in Wuhan emerged in November, and that six weeks later on January 15, Washington and Beijing signed a trade deal in which she claims China preempted the pandemic.
In an agreement which ended the bitter trade war between the world’s two economic powerhouses, Xi Jinping would buy $200million of Americal goods and Donald Trump would ease tariffs on Chinese exports.
But DiMartino Booth said that buried in this deal was ‘an out-clause, a very clever out-clause that the Chinese made sure was in there.’
She continued: ‘That said if there was any act of God, a pandemic, then they didn’t have to make good on what they’d committed to buy from the United States.
‘Within days they’d announced the first coronavirus (case).
‘So, did the Chinese know damn well that this thing was running around the world for six weeks before they shut down Wuhan? Yes they did. Is that criminal? Yes it is. Does it deserve to go in front of a world tribunal? Yes it does.’
The clause DiMartino is understood to have referred to is Article 7.6, which stipulates that the parties shall ‘consult with each other’ in the event of a ‘natural disaster or other unforeseeable event’ outside of their control.
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