Contrary to claims from both Chinese officials and the World Health Organization, China did not report the existence of the coronavirus in late 2019, according to a WHO timeline tracking the spread of the virus. Rather, international health officials discovered the virus through information posted to a U.S. website.
The quiet admission from the international health organization, which posted an “updated” timeline to its website this week, flies in the face of claims from some of its top officials, including WHO director general Tedros Adhanom, who maintained for months that China had informed his organization about the emerging sickness.
China and its allies at the WHO insisted in multiple interviews and press conferences that China came to the health organization with information about the virus. This is now known to be false. The WHO’s backtracking lends credibility to a recent congressional investigation that determined China concealed information about the virus and did not initially inform the WHO, as it was required to do.
The WHO’s updated timeline, posted online this week, now states that officials first learned about the virus on Dec. 31, 2019, through information posted on a U.S. website by doctors working in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged. This contradicts the agency’s initial timeline, which said that China first presented this information at that date.
That initial timeline stated that the “Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, China, reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province” on Dec. 31.
These claims were carried in numerous American media outlets that relied on the WHO’s inaccurate timeline, including CNN and Axios.
Chinese officials and state-controlled media also claimed for months that the communist regime informed the WHO on or around Dec. 31. In recent days, however, Chinese officials have dropped that talking point.
Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of Congress’s China Task Force, was one of the first lawmakers to expose China’s lies about reporting the virus. An interim congressional report on the virus’s origins published last month first disclosed the fact that the WHO found out about the virus from online postings, not China.
“I’m glad to see the WHO and the Chinese Communist Party have both read my interim report on the origins of the pandemic and are finally admitting to the world the truth—the CCP never reported the virus outbreak to the WHO in violation of WHO regulation,” McCaul told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement. “The question now is whether the CCP will continue their false propaganda campaign that continues to claim they warned the world, or whether they will come clean and begin to work with the world health community to get to the bottom of this deadly pandemic.”
McCaul’s report makes clear that WHO director general Adhanom parroted China’s claim about self-reporting the virus.
“Director General Tedros actively engaged in an effort to defend the CCP’s leadership from criticism, negatively impacting the world’s understanding of the virus and hampering the global response effort,” the report concluded.
The WHO’s initial timeline “leaves out the fact that the WHO China Country Office was ‘informed’ by the WHO headquarters in Geneva—not PRC health authorities,” according to McCaul’s findings, which are now verified by the WHO’s revised timeline.
While initial reports of the virus did in fact originate in Wuhan, WHO officials in its headquarters found the information on an American early-warning site.
“Director General Tedros’s comments seem to suggest that Wuhan or the PRC informed the WHO of the outbreak, which is untrue,” according to the congressional report.