The Oversight and Reforms committee of House of Representatives, US Congress on 9th April wrote a letter to the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) seeking WHO’s efforts to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship with the Chinese government.
The Committee expressed its concerns by saying that the WHO is no longer serving the needs of the world and is instead taking its cues from China. Throughout the crisis, the WHO has shied away from placing any blame on the Chinese government, which is in essence the Communist Party of China. The WHO, even went so far as to praise the Chinese government’s “transparency” during the crisis, when, in fact, the regime has consistently lied to the world by under reporting their actual infection and death statistics. During the crisis WHO has repeatedly relied on false information from the Chinese government.
The letter made many allegations against the WHO saying that it is working as glove in hand with the Chinese Government. The letter points out certain allegations which are as follows:-
- Denied human-to-human spread of COVID-19 based solely on Chinese propaganda: On January 14, 2020, the WHO tweeted that “[p]reliminary investigations conducted by Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.” These preliminary investigations included China jailing any doctor that disseminated any information about COVID-19 not first cleared through state-run media. Furthermore, the WHO ignored Taiwanese warnings of human-to-human transmission in December 2019, because Taiwan is not currently recognized by the WHO as an independent nation. United States intelligence sources have since discovered that China covered-up and lied about the extent of the outbreak. On January 23, 2020, the WHO finally recognized that human-to-human spread was occurring, a month later than the first warnings.
- Prolonged naming COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and pandemic because China had the spread under control: By the time the WHO declared COVID-19 a PHEIC on January 30, 2020, the disease had infected almost 10,000 and killed almost 1,000 people in 19 different countries. It is reported that the delay in PHEIC declaration was a result of intense pressure from China. While making the declaration, you said that “China is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak.” Since then, there have been over one million new cases and 80,000 deaths worldwide.
- Delayed serious measures, like travel restrictions, to counter the global spread: Despite declaring COVID-19 a PHEIC and extensive evidence of transmission through travel, the WHO insisted other countries not restrict travel or trade to China. On January 31, 2020, President Trump came under intense criticism when he barred travel from China. A certain politician called the order “xenophobi[c].” In comparison to the WHO’s inaction, the President’s actions saved lives. Between December 31 – when cases were first reported – and January 31, over 430,000 people were on direct flights from China to the U.S. The WHO has not issued updated travel restrictions since February 29 and has still not recommended restricting international travel.
- Continued praise of the Chinese efforts to combat the crisis, despite the cover-up: The WHO has routinely praised China’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 despite multiple reports that China engaged in a massive disinformation campaign. According to a recent report from the U.S intelligence community, China severely under reported both its total number of cases of, and deaths caused by, COVID-19. The report details efforts by the Chinese government to continually alter their reporting methodology which, at different points, left out individuals who tested positive but were asymptomatic—despite their ability to remain contagious. China also gagged doctors and journalists that attempted to speak the truth about the severity of COVID-19. You even said China should be “praised” for these manipulative tactics; tactics frowned upon worldwide.
In 2017, the WHO received 17% of its total funding, or $513 million, from the United States. It is essential that American taxpayers’ money is allocated to organizations that uniformly serve the interests of nations across the globe, not merely the interests of China’s authoritarian, communist regime said the Committee in its letter.
The Committee has sought number of documents and information from the WHO to understand its relationship with Chinese Government. They are as follows:-
- All documents and communications regarding public health, including but not limited to COVID-19, novel coronavirus, or coronavirus, between the WHO and the Chinese Communist Party or the government of China between August 2019 and present.
- All documents and communications regarding the total number of infected persons and deceased persons related to the current COVID-19 pandemic in China, including those infected but asymptomatic.
- All documents and communications regarding public health, including but not limited to COVID-19, novel coronavirus, or coronavirus, between the WHO and Taiwan between August 2019 and present.
The Committee in addition to this has also sought a staff-level briefing no later than April 16, 2020. These events happened at a time when President Donald Trump made regular accusations against the WHO that it is working on behalf of China. It remains to be seen that whether US takes any action against the WHO or it is a mere an eyewash exercise before the American people to hide its failure to contain COVID-19 which has left thousands dead in the country.
–India Legal Bureau