Blinken says China ‘didn’t do what it needed to do’ in the early stages of the pandemic

Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on April 11, 2021.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken said we need to 'get to the bottom' of COVID-19's origin.
  • Blinken said China knows it didn't adequately respond to the early stages of the pandemic.
  • He said China should've allowed real-time access to international experts and been more transparent.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday we need "to get to the bottom" of the origins of COVID-19 in China to prevent a similar pandemic from happening again in the future.

Blinken made the comments Sunday during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Meet the Press" moderator Chuk Todd asked Blinken whether he believed China knew the still unclear origin of COVID-19, noting a recent investigation by the World Health Organisation had been unable to determine the exact origin of the disease.

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The WHO issued a 120-page report in March that listed potential scenarios for how the virus originated after it conducted a month-long investigation in China from January to February this year.

In their report, researchers said the most likely possibility was the novel coronavirus jumped from bats to humans through an intermediary animal host, as Insider's Aylin Woodward previously reported. But the WHO team was ultimately unable to determine which population of bats, or which intermediary species, carried the virus.

"I think China knows in the early stages of COVID, it didn't do what it needed to do, which is to in real-time give access to international access experts, in real-time to share information, in real-time to provide real transparency," Blinken said. "And one result of that failure is that the virus got out of hand faster and with much more egregious results than it might have otherwise."

According to the WHO report, researchers believed that the first animal to human transmission happened in the fall of 2019, in October of November, months before China shut down wildlife farms in February 2020.

Blinken stressed Sunday that it was important that the origin of the virus was determined and how the virus spread in the early days of the pandemic to prevent a similar outbreak from occurring in the future.

"I think we have to," he said. "We need to do that precisely so we fully understand what happened in order to have the best shot possible to prevent it from happening again. That's why we need to get to the bottom of this."

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