The coronavirus pandemic is a “big test” that exposed weaknesses in the Chinese public health system, a senior official told Chinese media.
The rare admission of the director of the National Health Commission of China, Li Bin, follows sustained criticism abroad of China’s rapid response.
The country will now improve its disease prevention, public health system and data collection, he said.
China has offered to help North Korea fight the pandemic there.
Li told reporters that the pandemic is a major challenge for China’s governance and that it reveals “the weak links in the way we deal with the major epidemic and the public health system.”
China has been accused of reacting too slowly to the first signs of the virus in Wuhan, where the epidemic began, and of failing to quickly alert the international community to the epidemic.
China has dismissed calls for an independent international investigation into the origins of the virus.
In April, an EU report accused China of spreading false information about the crisis.
A doctor who tried to alert authorities to the virus in December has been ordered to stop “making false comments.” Li Wenliang later died of Covid-19 at Wuhan Hospital.
China has 4,637 deaths from coronavirus, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University, and nearly 84,000 cases. Worldwide, more than 275,000 people have died, with almost 4 million confirmed cases.
A rare admission
Celia Hatton, BBC Regional Editor for Asia-Pacific
It is rare for Chinese leaders to admit wrongdoing.
Li Bin said the commission would solve the problems by centralizing its systems and making better use of big data and artificial intelligence, building on many long-standing goals of leadership.
China has faced harsh criticism, both at home and abroad, over its early handling of the virus. Several provincial and local leaders of the ruling Communist Party were dismissed, but no prominent Party member was punished.
Beijing has not responded to calls to ease media censorship and state control.
China has now offered to help North Korea after North Korean leader Jim Jong-un praised Xi Jinping for his success in fighting Covid-19, according to Chinese media.
North Korea says it has had no confirmed cases of coronavirus, which is questioned by experts.
The country has a fragile health system that risks being overwhelmed by a serious epidemic.