Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on CNBC on Friday accused China of not being forthcoming initially on the coronavirus outbreak.
In a “Squawk Box” interview, Pompeo said that action set prevention efforts back.
“The information that we got at the front end of this thing wasn’t perfect and has led us now to a place where much of the challenge we face today has put us behind the curve,” Pompeo said. “That’s not the way infectious disease doctors tell me it should work. It’s not the way America works with transparency and openness and the sharing of the information that needs to take place.”
Pompeo said it has proven “incredibly frustrating” to work with the Chinese government around obtaining data on the coronavirus, “which will ultimately be the solution to both getting the vaccine and attacking this risk.”
Global coronavirus cases increased to more than 95,000 with at least 3,280 deaths. The vast majority of cases are still in China, where the virus originated in December.
The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. has risen to 12, with more than 225 cases reported around the country. California and Washington state have the largest number of the cases. Washington state has seen 11 of the fatalities. The other was in California.
Pompeo pushed back on any suggestion that the global outbreak of coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it’s also called, could have originated outside of China, a narrative pushed by the state-run media.
“No less authority than the Chinese Communist Party said it came from Wuhan,” Pompeo said. “So don’t take Mike Pompeo’s word for it. We have pretty high confidence that we know where this began.”
“We have high confidence too that there was information that could have been made available more quickly and data that could have been provided and shared among health professionals across the world,” Pompeo added. “It’s most unfortunate.”
Pompeo said he believed in the U.S. government’s ability to appropriately respond to the coronavirus. “I’m confident we can handle it here. I’m confident that we’ll handle it better than any nation in the world.”