When the dust has settled and the virus is finally brought under control, a serious question will have to be asked: who can trust the WHO?
Exactly wherein the WHO’s organization structure the blame for the spread of coronavirus lies is impossible for an outsider to say, but surely the buck must stop eventually with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
His messaging early on in this crisis hugely downplayed the risks and has without question led to a situation that at least had a chance of being avoided.
Today, President Trump criticizes WHO over its handling of coronavirus pandemic, calls it “very China-centric” and slammed this organization, that was led by Dr. Tedros Adhanom, for its “faulty recommendation” that the US should keep its borders open during the early weeks of the epidemic – which now has more coronavirus cases than China.
The president warned he would be having a “good look” at why the WHO, chiefly funded by the US, was so “China-centric”.
Trump was referring to the WHO’s statement on February 3 that there was no need for widespread travel restrictions in order to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China.
The administration had restricted travel from China into the U.S. days earlier.
The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2020
As the coronavirus epidemic has grown from a localized outbreak around Wuhan, China to a global pandemic, world leaders have rushed to point fingers, each accusing the others of “getting it wrong” early on.
The WHO has veered from downplaying COVID-19 to spreading global panic. What is the point of the body if it fails during the crisis it was born to deal with?
Criticism of the WHO has, therefore, piled in from various corners. Several US senators have called for Dr. Tedros’ resignation over his handling of the crisis, a change.org petition for his removal has so far gained more than 735,000 signatures.
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Sen. Marthy McSally (R-Ariz.) called on WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to resign last week after reports emerged that the U.S. intelligence community had concluded that China underreported its count of coronavirus cases.
“They need to come clean and another piece of this is, the WHO has to stop covering for them. I think Dr. Tedros needs to step down,” McSally told Fox Business in an interview last week.
“We need to take some action to address this issue. It’s just irresponsible, it’s unconscionable what they have done here while we have people dying across the globe.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has also demanded the Senate Homeland Security Committee launch an inquiry into the World Health Organization’s handling of the virus, suggesting the organization’s actions had left the global community ill-prepared to combat the virus.
– In December 2019, the WHO had been made aware of COVID-19.
– In January 2020, the WHO posted a tweet saying: “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus”
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??. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
– In February 2020, Dr. Tedors declared that there was no need for travel bans, saying the spread of the virus outside China was “minimal and slow.”
– On March 11, 2020, Dr. Tedros was telling the world that coronavirus was officially a pandemic and that he was “deeply concerned by alarming levels of inaction” as it spread.
– Days later, he tweeted that the “pandemic is accelerating”
The #COVID19 pandemic is accelerating. It took 67 days from the 1st reported case to reach the first 100K cases, 11 days for the second 100K cases & just 4 days for the third 100K cases.
These numbers matter, these are people, whose lives & families have been turned upside down. https://t.co/VydhLBNq36
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 23, 2020
– Then, at a press conference, he said that “all countries should be able to test all suspected cases” because “they cannot fight this pandemic blindfolded.”
Perhaps if countries had been warned about the need for widespread testing sooner; they would have been better placed to implement such measures.
The World Health Organization led by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus should have been better prepared. When the dust has settled and the virus is finally brought under control, a serious question will have to be asked: who can trust the WHO?