Shortly after Chinese President Xi Jinping and the World Health Organization agreed on Tuesday that WHO would send a team of international experts to China to investigate the coronavirus outbreak, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he expects US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff to be among them.
"I've been standing on the stage, so I didn't hear that," Azar told reporters Tuesday after being made aware of the WHO announcement. "Obviously, if that is the case, [I'm] delighted with that news ... and assuming CDC personnel would be part of that."
Minutes earlier, Azar pressured China for more collaboration in addressing the coronavirus outbreak, saying, "We are urging China: More cooperation and transparency are the most important steps you can take toward a more effective response."
CNN has reached out to WHO to ask if CDC will be part of its delegation to China.
One question US health officials are keen to answer involves whether the virus can be transmitted before symptoms appear.
"The Chinese have reported evidence of transmission in the asymptomatic phase based on data that they have reviewed," CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield told reporters Tuesday. "CDC has not been given the opportunity to review that data."
"We would really like to see the data. Because if there is asymptomatic transmission, it impacts certain policies that you do regarding screening, et cetera," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, standing alongside Redfield and Azar.
But Fauci said that, even if patients are spreading the virus before symptoms show, that is very unlikely to be the leading contributor to the outbreak.
"In all the history of respiratory-borne viruses of any time, asymptomatic transmission has never been the driver of outbreaks," he said. "The driver of outbreaks is always a symptomatic person."