British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday joined the White House in demanding China hand over key data from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that a priority for his close cooperation with President Biden will be leading a “global coordination in getting to the bottom” of the pandemic.
He said he “thoroughly supports” the Biden administration in its statement Saturday, which stated “deep concerns” over possible Chinese interference in the World Health Organization origins probe.
“We need to see the data. We need to see all the evidence,” Johnson said, echoing US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s call on Saturday demanding full transparency from China.
“We need to know exactly how it happened,” he said of the pandemic, noting the WHO findings were fuzzy even over long-held assumptions such as the new coronavirus emerging in Wuhan wet markets.
Sullivan’s stern statement Saturday came after a member of the WHO investigation team revealed that China had refused to hand over raw data on the earliest cases in Wuhan.
“We have deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them,” Sullivan said.
“It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government.
“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak,” he said.
Johnson hailed his close bond and “fantastic conversations” with Biden — even though the president had once called him the “physical and emotional clone of Donald Trump.”
“I’ve had, already, two long, very good conversations with the president,” Johnson said, insisting there has been “important developments in the way UK-US thinking has been coming together in the last few weeks.”
He joked about how they were united in having the same slogan for pandemic recovery, “Build Back Better,” with the messy-haired British leader telling “Face the Nation” that he used it before Biden.
“But to be truthful, I think we nicked it from somewhere else before I started using it,” he conceded, adding, “But it’s the right slogan.”
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