Azar's UN remarks to take aim at China
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is expected to give a speech at a special session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday that hails U.S. progress on coronavirus vaccines while criticizing — though not directly naming — China.
Why it matters: U.S. government officials are concerned that China will use the UN special session to spread disinformation about the origins of the virus and China's early missteps in handling the pandemic.
- "What’s evolving now is an infodemic at China’s behest," said a senior U.S. government official. "The UN is going to be ground zero on Thursday and Friday."
What's happening: The UN General Assembly is convening a special session addressing the coronavirus on Dec. 3 and 4 at the UN headquarters in New York. Representatives from numerous governments, including Azar, will give brief remarks during the sessions.
What Azar will say, according to a copy of his planned remarks obtained by Axios:
On vaccines: "The U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed has supported six different vaccine candidates, three of which have now reported promising data less than a year after the virus was made known globally. This is a stunning, unprecedented scientific achievement that will bring benefits to the entire world."
On China: "The key issue is not where the virus first appeared—it is whether information about the virus was shared in a timely and transparent way. Sadly, the necessary information sharing did not happen, and this dereliction of duty has been absolutely devastating for the entire globe."
- "Sadly, some countries have also attempted to take advantage of the pandemic to pursue economic, diplomatic, or security gains with hard-hit countries."
The bottom line: The U.S. now has a real accomplishment to tout in its fight against the coronavirus. But U.S. officials remain concerned about China's ongoing refusal to own up to its early mishandling of the outbreak.
Go deeper: Beijing's coronavirus propaganda blitz goes global