The Chinese coronavirus has killed more than 342,000 people around the globe, decimated economies and laid waste to the hopes and dream of millions of people, yet the bungled response of World Health Organization (W.H.O.) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to the crisis was warmly applauded Sunday by China’s Communist government.
Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi said the Ethiopian bureaucrat has done a good job and countries “with decency” will support him and the W.H.O. in its future work.
Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the Chinese Communist Party’s annual People’s Congress in Beijing, Wang claimed the W.H.O. was beyond reproach, although he declined the opportunity to offer a single fact to back his claim.
“We hope all countries will realize that humanity is a community with a shared future. We must render each other more support and cooperation, and there should be less accusation and confrontation. We call on all nations to come together and build a better world for all,” he said.
“As for W.H.O.’s international standing and its place in history, I’m sure clear-eyed people the world over will reach a fair conclusion, one that will not be altered just because some country doesn’t like it,” Wang added.
Those who throw mud at the W.H.O. will only leave a stain on themselves, said Wang, in defiance of a host of countries who see nothing but hopeless mismanagement almost from the first day the virus was isolated.
U.S. health secretary Alex Azar has already blamed the W.H.O. for not obtaining or providing the information needed to stem the pandemic.
“We must be frank about one of the primary reasons this outbreak spun out of control: there was a failure by this organisation to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives,” he said earlier this month.
The evidence backs that assertion.
As far back as January 14, two months after health officials are believed to have detected the first case of the virus in China on November 17 of last year, the W.H.O. was promoting a Chinese claim via Twitter that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.”
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
Meanwhile, the disease was spiraling out of control. The W.H.O. tweet came a day before the first case to reach the United States reportedly flew from Wuhan to the state of Washington.
At the same time, the W.H.O. explicitly warned against travel restrictions for those coming from Wuhan or elsewhere in China, despite the fact that these restrictions could could have saved the lives of tens of thousands of people who have since succumbed to the deadly virus.
Tedros’ visit to Beijing was, in part, a vote of confidence in favor of keeping global travel ties to China.
“The W.H.O. noted that some countries are planning to evacuate their citizens from China, saying there is no need to overact and the W.H.O. is fully confident that the Chinese government can bring the spread of the disease under control,” Chinese state media reported while Tedros was in Beijing on January 28.
In the months since, the W.H.O. has delivered other mixed messages about the Chinese coronavirus and even had its U.S. finances cut off, such is the level of frustration with its inability to carry out the most simple of tasks in warning the world of an approaching pandemic.
It has done nothing to dismiss allegations it speaks solely for the Chinese Communist Party, a point noted in Washington:
For his part, Tedros said on Friday his organization “worked day and night to coordinate the global response” to the coronavirus , “providing technical advice, catalysing political solidarity, mobilising resources, coordinating resources and much more.”
“So far almost $800 million has been pledged or received towards W.H.O.’s appeal for COVID-19 programs, leaving a gap of just over $900 million,” Tedros told the 34 members of the W.H.O. Executive Board in a three-hour teleconference, stressing the need – again – for more funding.