The CIA believes that Chinese officials pressured the World Health Organization not to alert the global community about the dangers of COVID-19 during the pivotal early stages of the outbreak — while the communist country stockpiled medical supplies.
What are the details?
"China threatened the WHO that the country would stop cooperating with the agency's coronavirus investigation if the organization declared a global health emergency," Newsweek first reported, citing two anonymous U.S. intelligence officials.
The bombshell new report, titled, "U.N.-China: WHO Mindful But Not Beholden to China," is the second Western intelligence report to surface in recent days suggesting that China and the WHO were involved in a cover-up during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.
The first such report came from Germany's intelligence service, known as the Bundesnachrichtendienst, and alleged that Chinese President Xi Jinping asked WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in January to keep quiet about the dangers of COVID-19.
In response to the news, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told Newsweek: "We don't comment on specific discussions with member states but we can say that at all times during the pandemic WHO has acted in accordance with its mandate as an evidence-based technical organization focusing on protecting all people, everywhere."
"Dr. Tedros did not communicate with President Xi on Jan. 20, 21 or 22. Dr. Tedros and his senior team met with President Xi in Beijing on Jan. 28," Lindmeier added. "The issue of PHEIC did not come up in that meeting."
The two U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to Newsweek were not able to say whether President Xi took part in the pressure campaign.
China was stockpiling medical supplies in January
A third report, put together by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and obtained by the Associated Press, suggested that Chinese leaders "intentionally concealed the severity" of the pandemic so that it could hoard medical supplies.
The report found that in January, while China and the WHO was denying that the virus could be spread through human-to-human transmission, China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies.
Moreover, China tried to cover up doing so by "denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data," the report states, according to the AP.