Special to WorldTribune.com
Look, WHO’s back in Washington’s good graces!
Just a day after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, stated:
“I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization. Yesterday, President Biden signed letters retracting the previous Administration’s announcement to withdraw from the organization.” He added mirthfully, “and those letters have been transmitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to you Dr. Tedros, my dear friend.”
Might we ask, an honor for whom? Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s controversial Director-General has been in the eye of the storm about not sounding an alarm over the virus in its early stages.
Until last year, few people had heard of or were familiar with the work of the World Health Organization (WHO), a bureaucratically bloated but fairly obscure Geneva-based UN agency.
That was of course until WHO and its leadership failed to alert the world to the approaching COVID-19 virus.
In COVID’s early stages in 2019-2020, WHO largely dropped the ball in warning the world for what was likely to happen as this new virus strain from Wuhan, China was about to make its deadly debut first on the Chinese Mainland, then sweeping into Europe and soon thereafter the USA.
The early stages of the epidemic reflected the WHO’s misfeasance rather than malfeasance.
Clearly there were terrible mistakes of trust, namely accepting the Chinese talking points at face value and not realizing Beijing’s deeper intent to hide and deceive over COVID. The depth of the Wuhan health disaster was covered up by the ruling Communist party probably at first in the vainglorious hope the virus could be contained, and the story hushed up the old fashioned way.
Let’s review the timeline. Records reveal conclusively that while WHO knew of the impending epidemic, it proceeded far too cautiously to enact emergency measures.
Significantly, Dr. Tedros said on Jan. 23, 2020, “I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern today … this is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”
He added, “At this time, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission outside China, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Dr. Tedros stated dutifully, “Once again, I would like to thank the Government of the People’s Republic of China for its cooperation and transparency. The government has been successful in isolating and sequencing the virus very quickly!”
Let the record show a creeping concern but somehow detached ambivalence by many American officials concerning the transmission dangers of Covid during February and March. After all, this was but a new strain of a Coronavirus in far off Wuhan.
Dr. Fauci downplayed the dangers prior to the declared pandemic; “This is not a major threat. This is not something the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.”
Then on 11th March, Dr. Tedros declared a global pandemic. President Trump closed the borders and announced his decision to withdraw from the WHO. The world changed.
Clearly, it’s a mistake to rejoin WHO at this point.
Without question WHO has played a positive and important role in treating and monitoring international health crisis and epidemics. However, in this COVID pandemic, WHO miscalculated on a massive scale, two million people have since died globally.
The USA remains WHO’s largest financial supporter. In 2019, the U.S. contributions to WHO exceeded $400 million both in assessments (22 percent) and voluntary donations; with China, the second largest contributor at $44 million.
As this column stated last year, “The primary guilt lies with Beijing’s regime who spread a deadly miasma of disinformation about the virus through both its State-run media as well as the gullible WHO in Geneva. The narrative that Coronavirus came from bats offered a colorful and folkloric story to obscure the Chinese Communist Party’s hidden hand of screwup and/or coverup inside China most likely connected to two research labs: The Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control.”
Back to the future. Dr. Fauci told WHO officials, “We realize that responding to COVID-19 and rebuilding global health and advancing health security around the world will not be easy. And in this regard: We are committed to transparency, including those events surrounding the early days of the pandemic.” He added, “The international investigation should be robust and clear, and we look forward to evaluating it.”
Agreed, but let’s first see the results of investigations and transparency levels before rejoining and refinancing the World Health Organization.
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014). [See pre-2011 Archives]