U.S. national security officials fear China might beat the world to a COVID-19 vaccine and use it to extort its way to leadership of the world, sources say.
"They know that whoever finds a workable vaccine right now basically rules the world," an official told Politico.
China has been rebuked for its lack of information and sample sharing early before the coronavirus became a world-wide pandemic, according to "Five Eyes" intelligence allies in a 15-page dossier.
"China does have a head start" on a vaccine, according to another anonymous national security source, Politico reported.
"But they also have a pattern of theft and trying to steal everyone else's research," the second source added. "So you would think they'd be very benevolent [with the vaccine] so as not to be seen as a pariah."
The U.S. has decided to reject the leadership of the World Health Organization because of its suspected ties to the Chinese Communist Party government, so world-wide efforts for a vaccine are not necessarily being conducted in concert with U.S. researchers.
"America's world-leading scientists are working hard on a COVID-19 vaccine," a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Politico. "We welcome serious efforts to assist in that endeavor and look forward to learning more about the World Health Organization's proposal. We remain deeply concerned about the WHO's effectiveness, given that its gross failures helped fuel the current pandemic."
The European Union met Monday to raise money for funding research into vaccines and treatments.
"You would think that, based on the past, that the U.S. would be a galvanizing, lead element in pushing for transparency and early planning," Center for Strategic and International Studies' Stephen Morrison told Politico. "I don't think that's true in this administration."
The Bill and Melina Gates Foundation is now the No. 1 funder of the WHO after President Donald Trump has ordered a halt of the millions of funds appropriated by the U.S. Congress.
"The worst situation would be, if when these tools are available, they go to the highest bidder — that would be terrible for the world," Melinda Gates told Politico. "COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere. And that's why it's got to take global cooperation."
If China is first to come up with a vaccine, and Trump and other countries are still pressing it for unleashing the pandemic on the world, China might be inclined to leverage its way back into supremacy.
But a European ambassador fears the same with Trump's America First agenda.
"We are a bit skeptical at the moment, because we don't see the forthcoming attitude that we've seen in the past," he told Politico.
Still, Europeans will find whoever will cooperate and perhaps ultimately, China and the U.S. will join in, according to Politico.
"We can be in the camp of those who say without the U.S. and without China it's useless, and we give up and we wait for the vaccine to maybe come one day, or we take action and find our third way," a French official told Politico.
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