It’s no news that Donald Trump has not had the best of relationships with the WHO ever since the coronavirus pandemic broke. The US president has constantly accused the the WHO of assisting China in attempting to conceal just how bad the coronavirus really was, and even went as far as to suspend the US funding to the WHO.
That being said, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has always insisted that the organization did the right thing to the best of its abilities, saying “WHO sounded the alarm early, and we sounded it often.”
Addressing a virtual meeting of the WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, he said that when the WHO declared a global emergency on Jan. 30, there were fewer than 100 cases outside China, and no deaths.
He also mentioned that a review of the organizations handling of the outbreak would come “at the earliest appropriate moment” as he received strong backing from the WHO’s independent oversight panel.
In its very first report on the WHOs handling of the pandemic, the oversight committee comprising of seven members found that the WHO had “demonstrated leadership and made important progress in its COVID-19 response”.
The committee was also in agreement that a review was needed but that the priority now should be dealing with the pandemic, before taking an apparent dig at Trump by stating that a “rising politicization of pandemic response” was hindering the effort to defeat the virus.
To make matters more interesting, Chinese president Xi Jinping has pledged $2 billion over the next two years to help deal with COVID-19, especially in developing countries. This effectively means that China will now replace the US as the WHO’s biggest funders, which is great and all, but also rather suspicious.
China, up till this announcement, has pretty much been against any sort of review for the origins of the coronavirus. It’s hard not to be suspicious of the Asian powerhouse suddenly shifting its stance on this around the same time that its $2 billion pledge is announced.
It’ll be interesting to hear what Donald Trump has to say about this.