China may be keeping coronavirus data for commercial gain: Trump adviser

FILE PHOTO: White House trade adviser Peter Navarro listens to a news conference about a presidential executive order relating to military veterans outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S. March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House adviser Peter Navarro charged on Monday that China may be withholding data about early coronavirus infections because it wants to win the commercial race to create a vaccine.

The United States, which has been the country worst affected by coronavirus pandemic according to official statistics, has repeatedly calling on Beijing to share early data on the outbreak, which began in China.

“One of the reasons that they may not have let us in and given us the data on this virus early, is they’re racing to get a vaccine and they think this is just a competitive business race, it’s a business proposition so that they can sell the vaccines to the world,” Navarro told Fox Business Network.

“But we’re going to beat them. We’re going to beat them because of President Trump’s leadership. We’re going to beat them because HHS has already got a five-company horse race,” said Navarro, referring to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

President Donald Trump has named Navarro, an outspoken critic of China, to work on supply-line issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic.

There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus that has killed more than 165,854 globally, with more than 2.41 million infected, according to a Reuters tally as of 1400 GMT Monday.

The United States has more than 760,000 confirmed coronavirus cases infections and over 41,100 deaths, nearly half of them in the state of New York.

Reporting by Tim Ahmann and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Leslie Adler