The report, released on Monday, said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) concealed vital information about Covid-19 from the whole world, including their own people, following the outbreak in Wuhan in 2019.
It pointed out several examples suggesting an elaborate cover-up such as CCP’s repeated failure to notify the WHO of cases meeting the definition of SARS, its decision to not publish the Wuhan Institute of Virology‘s genetic mapping of SARS-CoV-2, the shutting down of the Shanghai lab that published the SARS-CoV-2 genome online and the lack of announcements about new cases during CCP political meetings between January 6-17 2020, among others.
The report said China had the information required to reduce its cases by at least 86% compared to the estimated caseload at the end of February.
Representative Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the report by the panel’s Republican staff.
It said that senior CCP leaders, including President Xi Jinping, knew a pandemic was ongoing weeks before it was announced.
“By responding in a transparent and responsible manner, the CCP could have supported the global public health response and shared information with the world about how to handle the virus. It is likely the ongoing pandemic could have been prevented had they done so, saving hundreds of thousands of lives and the world from an economic meltdown,” it said.
On the other hand, CCP propagandists sought to sow disinformation and shift the blame away from their cover-up, the report said.
“As countries began to restrict travel, the CCP publicly and privately criticized them. In mid-February, the CCP revoked press credentials from Western news outlets that were actively covering the outbreak,” the report said.
It said that most critically, the party, which has been ruling China for decades, manipulated case statistics throughout the outbreak in an effort to minimize the significance of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the corresponding number of cases.
“From the beginning, the CCP only allowed some symptomatic cases to be reported. Prior to mid-February, the CCP only reported cases that were symptomatic, clinically diagnosed, and confirmed by laboratory tests,” the report said, adding that the policy was reversed only after March 31.
There have been several reports in foreign media about China underreporting its cases and deaths in the early days of the pandemic.
The Republican report said that Chinese officials even went as far as to claim that the virus originated outside China.
It cited a tweet by senior China foreign ministry official Lijian Zhao in March 2020 where he shared an article claiming the virus was brought into China by the US military.
The report also pointed out some “disturbing examples” of CCP harassing and detaining Chinese doctors who tried to warn others about the outbreak in the early days.
“Healthcare professionals in Wuhan were not the only ones subject to such treatment. On January 26th, the CCP’s Discipline Inspection Commission for Taizhou City Number Two People’s Hospital issued a notice regarding Li Min, a nurse at the hospital. Li was punished for discussing the Covid-19 outbreak with her classmates via WeChat and reprimanded for lacking the proper ‘discipline’,” the report mentioned.
It recalled how Chinese authorities tried to “cover up” the 2003 SARS outbreak in a similar fashion.
“Similar to the early days of Covid-19, requests for access to the epicenter of the SARS outbreak were denied by the CCP. Even after the WHO was admitted, the cover-up continued; CCP officials went so far as to put SARS patients in hospital rooms and in ambulances driving around the city to hide them from the WHO,” the report claimed.
It said the “startling similarity” in the CCP’s mishandling of the two outbreaks only adds to the evidence that the spread and impact of Covid-19 could have been prevented.