Recently, arguments of the US and China over the WHO (World Health Organisation) and over Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, its director-general, got heated. Criticism from the US President Donald Trump was harsh on the WHO, totalling up 3 times on the 7th April 2020 for siding with China and giving misinformation, both issues having to do with coronavirus. “Really blew it” was a tweet made by the US President.
A swift response was given by the China’s People’s Daily on the 8th of April which said the ill intentions of some people were slandering and condemning the WHO without realising that by doing so is endangering the safety of innumerable lives and halts much of the progress to stop the coronavirus from infecting and killing more people. Zhao Lijian, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said China will resume supporting the WHO in fulfilling its goal to stop the Covid-19 pandemic despite the slander from these people.
Let us all remember and understand the main objective of the WHO is to combat the spread of Covid-19. The Institut Montaigne, a French thinking tank, spotted that Tedros had blind trust of the Chinese to provide the information of the coronavirus in the situation. Furthermore, from the Institut Montaigne, it was this blind trust from Tedros that is a possible reason to delays of responses that were crucial for the other countries to combat the pandemic. These facts were all according to the first assessment of WHO’s handling of the situation from the Institut Montaigne.
There were very questionable in the handling of the pandemic by the WHO in at least four time periods. The first being Taiwan’s warning being ignored by the WHO on the 31st of December 2019. An email was sent to the WHO by Taiwan on the matter, an alert to be more specific, that a new virus could spread from person to person. The existence of this email was denied by the WHO however, claiming that no such email from Taiwan was ever received. Chen Shih-chung, the Taiwan Minister of Health and Welfare explained clearly that they had “firmly stated that there was human-to-human transmission” then, which might have been misleading. It was clearly stated in the email that there were news coverage and the health authorities have indeed reported seven cases in Wuhan that were isolated for treatment.
Chen Shih-chung then said “if our warning to the WHO that the patients were isolated for treatment does not count as a warning, then what does?”. The Taiwan Minister of Health hinted that the WHO was more akin to “an insider speaking like an amateur”.
The WHO tweeted: “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China” on the 14th of January 2020.
The second time period was on the 21st of January 2020, when information of the human-to-human transmission was released too late. The confirmation of the Chinese officials on the 20th of January that the coronavirus could spread from person-to-person was in fact possible. This remark was then modified by the WHO on the 21st of January, saying “There may now be sustained human-to-human transmission.”
Following this time period is the declaration of the coronavirus which was delayed until 30th January 2020. The declaration from the WHO said “public health emergency of international concern”. An emergency meeting was conducted by the WHO between the 22nd and 23rd of January to confirm whether the Covid-19 outbreak was situation of public health emergency of international concern or not. Only on 30th January did the WHO admitted the made a mistake in assessing the severity of the outbreak and finally declared that it was indeed a public health emergency of international concern. Tedros quotes “WHO doesn’t recommend limiting trade and movement”.
The fourth and final time period is on the 3rd of February 2020, when an appeal from Tedros to the countries to not impose any travel restrictions to China. Various representatives of different countries were clearly showing concerns for the outbreak during the WHO’s Executive Board meeting that took part on the 3rd of February. The countries were then criticized by China for imposing restrictions as it would cripple its trade as well as its tourism. The WHO press release from the 3rd of February stated that travel measures are unnecessary and further stating that it would “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade.” The outbreak of Covid-19 was said to be controllable by Tedros during that time according to the press release.
From these four time periods, we can clearly see why many are questioning whether WHO was siding with China on how to treat the severity of the pandemic. It is possible, if the severity of the coronavirus was recognized and acknowledged as well as implementing restrictions to China travels, that the global situation wouldn’t be so dire right now.
17th April 2020 21:27
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