On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, the Associated Press released an article detailing China’s stonewalling and delay tactics in withholding crucial data from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This article gives us a glimpse behind the scenes at WHO.
The political leaders at WHO pursued a strategy of placating China in a seemingly haphazard attempt to coax China’s leaders into cooperating more fully.
Despite red flags raised by medical experts within the Organization about the lack of data coming out of China and serious doubts about the Chinese government’s claim that human to human transmission was not a concern, WHO leadership continued lauding China’s approach and transparency.
Many career officials have openly voiced their frustration with how WHO leadership lacked the willingness to push China to hand over vital information about the virus. Remember, WHO did publicly push China when it withheld information on the SARS outbreak in 2003.
The Chinese government refused to share data about COVID-19 test results that would have allowed researchers around the world to make independent assessments of the virus’s spread.
Weeks passed before the Chinese government allowed WHO to see the map of the virus genome created by Chinese researchers.
By that time, the virus was spreading around the globe, which has led to countless death and immeasurable economic damage around the world.
I am glad that the WHO member countries approved an investigation as to how the organization handled COVID-19.
I hope this will be a truly independent investigation that will prevent future missteps.
In the meantime, we already know enough about the actions by the WHO management to warrant immediate changes.
Politics must never again get in the way of those medical professionals in the Organization that are dedicated to fulfilling WHO’s mission to share accurate and timely public health information and save lives.