U.S. spy agencies collected raw intelligence hinting at a public health crisis in Wuhan, China, in November, two current and one former U.S. official told NBC News, but the information was not understood as the first warning signs of an impending global pandemic.
The intelligence came in the form of communications intercepts and overhead images showing increased activity at health facilities, the officials said. The intelligence was distributed to some federal public health officials in the form of a “situation report” in late November, one former official briefed on the matter said. But there was no assessment that a lethal global outbreak was brewing at that time, a defense official said.
On Wednesday night, the Pentagon disputed an ABC News report that an “intelligence report” had warned about coronavirus in November.