U.S. top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci and other members of the White House coronavirus task force testified Friday at a coronavirus crisis hearing in Capitol Hill.
According to western media, during the hearing, Fauci was asked whether China was a threat to COVID-19 vaccine development by Rep. Jackie Walorski.
All of the vaccine development was already transparent, Fauci said, so “if they want to hack into a computer and find out what the results of a vaccine trial are,” hackers would find results that would show up in the New England Journal of Medicine anyway.
On July 21, the U.S. Justice Department announced criminal charges against two Chinese hackers for stealing hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in intellectual property and trade secrets from companies across the world. According to Associated Press, the indictment does not accuse the two Chinese defendants of anything related to coronavirus research.
China has consistently denied any role in hacking, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin at a press briefing on Friday.
Wang made the remarks after Reuters cited an anonymous U.S. security official that claimed Chinese hackers tried to steal valuable information from U.S. coronavirus vaccine research developer Moderna.
“As we’ve repeatedly said, China is leading the world in COVID-19 vaccine research and development. We don’t need to get ahead by theft and we have never done that. On the contrary, we are worried about a certain thieving country stealing our technology by hacking.”
Additionally, Fauci mentioned that he is “cautiously optimistic” that the U.S. could have a coronavirus vaccine in the late fall or early winter this year.
Fauci said, “We hope that by the time we get into late fall and early winter, we will have in fact a vaccine that we can say that would be safe and effective. One can never guarantee the safety or effectiveness unless you do the trial, but we are cautiously optimistic this will be successful.”
During the hearing, Fauci was also asked why Europe has been able to largely contain the virus while the U.S. has seen a rise in new cases.
Fauci said it was a complex question, but described some of the contributing factors. He first pointed out that many European countries locked down more wholly than the U.S.
If you look at what happened in Europe, when they shut down or locked down or went to shelter in place — however you want to describe it — they really did it to the tune of about 95 percent-plus of the country did that.
However, when you actually look at what we did, even though we shut down, even though it created a great deal of difficulty, we really functionally shut down only about 50 percent in the sense of the totality of the country.
U.S. Congressman James Clyburn said the coronavirus is “raging out of control,” while Trump sidelines the country’s public health and science experts.
“Regrettably, nearly six months after this virus claimed its first American life, the federal government has still not yet developed and implemented a national strategy to protect the American people,” he said.
U.S. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said he didn’t learn about the White House’s decision to bypass the CDC and report coronavirus hospitalization data directly to the Department of Health and Human Services.