A US intelligence report warned about the coronavirus as early as November, but did not reach the president until January.
In late November, as the coronavirus took hold of Wuhan, China, US intelligence officials with the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) expressed concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 in China, warning of its potential global impact.
NCMI’s November report described the spread of the virus as a potentially catastrophic event and reported it to the Defense Intelligence Agency, the White House, and the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.
NCMI continued to update the White House and policy-makers in the federal government on the coronavirus developments in China. The report eventually landed in the president’s daily brief in January 2020.
Confidential reports about the virus began to make their way throughout the US government in late November, detailing the out-of-control spread of the virus in China.
“This was definitely being briefed beginning at the end of November as something the military needed to take posture on,” a source said regarding the preliminary reports, according to ABC News.
Mick Mulroy, the former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary, said that government leaders should not ignore the work NCMI does.
“Medical intelligence takes into account all source information—imagery intelligence, human intelligence, signals intelligence,” Mulroy said.
The Pentagon, the director of national intelligence, and the White House National Security Council declined to comment on the early warnings to US media.