Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., blamed China’s failure to share necessary information that could have contained the coronavirus for putting the world at risk as more countries reported their first death from the virus over the weekend.
“The way you deal with a global pandemic is, you become transparent and you share information beginning with the actual virus,” Rubio told “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“You share the virus because researchers around the world can start working on the bases of that and developing treatments and vaccines… they didn’t do that,” he added.
Rubio said China’s lack of transparency and failure to share best practices, infection numbers and statistics with health experts around the world prevented other countries from taking the necessary precautions at the onset of the outbreak.
“It’s really complicated, the response to it both here in the U.S. and other countries,” he said, “and, I think, evidence of what we are dealing with when it comes to the Chinese Communist Party.”
Rubio pointed to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) praise for China’s handling of the virus — despite the country’s hesitation to allow in a team of outside investigators to research the outbreak — as an indication of China’s widespread influence and intimidation tactics.
“The Communist Party of China is more interested in protecting their global image than they are in containing this,” he said. “That’s really the fundamental challenge here. They’ve even intimidated the World Health Organization which… came out with these glowing reviews of the way they have responded to it.”
“The Communist Party of China is more interested in protecting their global image than they are in containing this.”
— Sen. Marco Rubio, ‘Sunday Morning Futures’
Rubio noted that the WHO later walked back its praise upon leaving the country before criticizing China for its failure to “share numbers on how many of the health care workers have been infected.”
Asked about Friday’s announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the United States was facing the first coronavirus-related drug shortage, Rubio said the disruption in the health-care supply chain represented a greater issue with the U.S.-Chinese relationship.
“Not only is 80 percent [of medications] coming from outside the country and a significant percentage of those active ingredients from China, but they actually come, a lot of it is from that very province that was the origin of this crisis,” he said, referring to the Wuhan province of China, which is where the virus is believed to have originated.
“The result of it now is that there is invariably going to be supply chain issues and disruptions,” Rubio added.
While the FDA did not reveal which products would be affected, Rubio said it was just the start of the shortage, and that other drugs would become unavailable as the outbreak continued to spread.
When anchor Maria Bartiromo raised concerns about whether antibiotics such as penicillin could be impacted as well, Rubio avoided a direct response, but questioned whether the United States should rely on China for “something as important as medicine.”
“I don’t want to speculate on how bad it could be… I know steps are being taken to stockpile,” he said.
“Bottom line is, I think we are going to have some shortages. And, I hope we are in a position to manage it here in terms of knowing what they are but long-term, the question is, should we rely as a nation on something as important as medicine? Should we rely so heavily on a single foreign country, particularly one who is a near-peer adversary and one who appears to be prone to these sorts of outbreaks that are disruptive?”
Rubio emphasized that while it was critical for the United States to maintain a relationship with China, the best interests of American citizens would remain a priority.
“Pretty straightforward, we want to interact with China — we will need to, because the 21st century will the be defined by the relationship between the United States and China — but in every one of our interactions with them, we are going to act in the best interest of the United States of America,” he explained.
“We want to interact with China…but in every one of our interactions with them, we are going to act in the best interest of the United States of America.”
— Sen. Marco Rubio, ‘Sunday Morning Futures’
Rubio added, “If some action on their part or some action on ours runs counter to national interest or security, we don’t do it. That’s the bottom line. These are not punitive measures, it’s not about punishing China, it’s about protecting the United States.”
Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo contributed to this report.