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Blinken: China 'didn't do what it needed to do' in early stages of pandemic

Blinken: China 'didn't do what it needed to do' in early stages of pandemic
© AFP

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBiden speaks with Israel's Netanyahu again amid ramped-up strikes in Gaza State calls for Azerbaijan to pull back forces from Armenia border Progressive groups call for Biden to denounce evictions of Palestinians as 'war crimes' MORE blamed Beijing for not being forthright with global health experts about COVID-19 during the early days of the pandemic.

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Blinken appeared to strike a stronger tone against China regarding blame for the outbreak than the Biden administration has taken in the past.

"I think China knows that in the early stages of COVID, it didn't do what it needed to do, which was to, in real time, give access to international experts, in real time to share information, in real time to provide real transparency," Blinken told host Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddGOP divided over expected Cheney ouster Sunday shows - White House COVID-19 response coordinator says US is 'turning the corner' Hogan: GOP devolving into 'circular firing squad' with Cheney ouster MORE.

"And one result of that failure is that the vaccine -- the virus, excuse me, got out of hand faster and with, I think, much more egregious results than it might otherwise," he added.

Blinken was then asked by Todd whether the U.S. would "guarantee" that the specific origin of the COVID-19 pandemic would be determined and released to the public.

"Well, I think we have to. Because we need to do that precisely so we fully understand what happened, in order to have the best shot possible preventing it from happening again. That's why we need to get to the bottom of this," Blinken responded.

A World Health Organization (WHO)-led team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic in China offered three theories for the pandemic's origin, with the most likely being the virus having travelled to humans from bats through a yet-unknown intermediary species.

One theory investigated by the team and ruled out by a top WHO official involved the disease being linked from a virology lab in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak was first recorded. This theory has found support from many conservatives in the U.S. including former Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans US Olympic Committee urges Congress not to boycott Games in China Pompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' MORE, who was among numerous Trump administration officials who sought to place stronger blame on China for the outbreak.

Rhetoric blaming China for COVID-19 has been attributed by many Asian Americans as being the cause behind a surge in anti-Asian discrimination across the country, including violent attacks in New York City, Los Angeles, and other cities.