The World Health Assembly on Tuesday agreed to an independent probe into the WHO’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak that has come under criticism from several countries, particularly the United States.
It has asked the WHO director general Tedros Adhanom to have an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the international response to the crisis, including a probe of WHO actions and “their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The resolution, initially drafted by the European Union, was co-sponsored by more than 130 countries.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who had all along been against a probe into the COVID-19 origin or the response, had yesterday underlined that Beijing was all for a comprehensive probe but only after the world had got a grip on the disease that has impacted infected millions.
China, which has been accused of concealing information about the disease, had to give up its resistance against the probe due to pressure from far too many countries.
The United States, which has played a lead role in the campaign against China and the World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom, forced the matter by firing a strongly-worded letter threatening to exit the WHO.
Trump’s letter, which accuses China of hiding crucial information about the disease, was a sharp contrast to the administration’s nominee at the WHA who did not name China through his speech, only referring to Beijing as “one country”.
The US told the World Health Assembly that the pandemic had “spun out of control” in great part due to a costly “failure” by the WHO, and called for a more effective world body.
“There was a failure by this organisation to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives,” US secretary of health and human services Alex Azar told the annual assembly.