HUGH HEWITT (HOST): I’m joined by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Good morning, Senator. Great to have you.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AK): Good morning, Hugh, good to be on with you as always.
HEWITT: Now it turns out that both the People’s Republic of China and MSNBC are mad at you, abecause you’ve been talking about the Coronavirus as long as I have. And they’re accusing you of peddling conspiracy theories. What are they talking about, Tom Cotton? What is your response?
SEN. TOM COTTON: Hugh, I have to say that the fake news media seems angrier at me for raising questions about the origins of the Ccoronavirus than they are at the Chinese Communist Party for contributing to this huge mess to begin with. So from the very beginning, after China, remember, finally acknowledged that they had a problem in Wuhan, which they hid for many weeks, which would have, if we had known, would have allowed us to get further ahead of the virus. The Chinese Communist Party said it originated in a food market in Wuhan. Yet an authoritative study in the Lancet, the respected international science journal, by Chinese scientists, refuted that almost conclusively:. 14 of the original 41 cases had no contact with that food market whatsoever. So we still don’t know the origins of this Ccoronavirus. And I have merely pointed out for several weeks now that China’s only biosafety level 4 laboratory dealing with human infectious diseases is just a few miles away from that laboratory.
Now, I don’t know where this virus originated. Natural causes somewhere other than that food market is still the most likely hypothesis. But given the Chinese Community Party’s record of dishonesty and incompetence in managing this crisis, we at least have to ask the question whether or not it’s connected to that laboratory and demand that international scientists be admitted to study the evidence of both in the food market and the laboratory and in those original cases, especially the original 14 cases that had no contact with the food market, if we want to get our hands around how this virus originated and what that can tell us about diagnosing it and trying to treat it.
HEWITT: Is it a reasonable expectation of the WHO and international bodies to be allowed admittance to the facility that you’ve referred to, Sen.ator Cotton?
COTTON: Yes, of course, Hugh, and especially given the dire situation that China now faces, and that China is increasingly spreading to the world. By some measures, more than 750 million people in China are now living under some version of quarantine or at least restricted movement. Think about that –-- 750 million people, more than twice the population of the United States of America. And these cases are continuing to spread around the world. And when there is so many unknown variables at play here, not just the origin, but how fast the virus can replicate, how long it takes to incubate, what its mortality rate will be, it is incumbent upon China to open itself up to reputable, respected scientists and doctors from around the world to help them figure out what we’re going to do about this virus.
HEWITT: Now the story of the morning from the South China Morning Post is, quote, “Coronavirus up to 20 times more likely than SARS to bind to human cells,” study suggests,.” close quote. At the same time, there’s an op-ed in the New York Times that says the mortality rate, as best we can tell thus far, is 2.5%. H, which is significantly lower than SARS, 10-20 times higher than seasonal flu, very bad in either situation. And the binding nature of this is very, very troubling. Do you, have you talked to the CDC, and are the CDC and the NIH being welcomed with open arms by the People’s Republic of China anywhere and everywhere they need to go to help?
COTTON: No, Hugh, of course not. China continues to exclude most Americans from Mainland China. They continue to dissemble, and be substantially less than transparent in getting the information out that we need, getting access that we need. Now China’s apologists in the mainstream media and the global left keep saying that well, they’re a lot better than they were when SARS broke out 17 years ago. Well, that is grading on a pretty steep curve. And as you say, hopefully, the mortality rate will remain at 2.5% and now grow to what it was with SARS. But if the infection rate is several times higher than it was with SARS, even at 2.5% mortality, you’re still talking about a widespread pandemic around the world that could kill tens if not hundreds of thousands, or perhaps even millions.
HEWITT: So I want to underscore nothing that you have said undermines the widespread belief that the virus jumped from animals to humans, nothing that you have said. You’re not in any way attempting to discredit that, but you are asking the Chinese government to be transparent about everything and everyone involved with the initial outbreak so that we might better understand origins and might better develop cures and vaccines, correct?
COTTON: That is correct, Hugh, that the Chinese Communist Party needs to be transparent about exactly what transpired in Wuhan in the November- to December timeframe. And the way to do that is to open itself up completely to a team of international scientists to study the matter.