China lauds WHO's 'good work' with $2B funding, agrees to independent assessment of its response to outbreak
Defending China's handling of the pandemic, President Xi Jinping said the country has acted with openness, transparency and responsibility all along
China said it would support an impartial inquiry into the global coronavirus pandemic response, but only after the pandemic is brought under control. The WHO has promised to carry out an independent review of the handling of the pandemic during the World Health Assembly meeting held on May 18. The decision follows a resolution passed by more than 100 countries, which called for an independent inquiry of "the (WHO)-coordinated international health response to Covid-19", without naming China or any other country.
The US has blamed China for covering up details about the outbreak, thereby allowing the crisis to spiral out of control. Defending China's handling of the pandemic, President Xi Jinping said: "All along we have acted with openness, transparency, and responsibility, we have provided information to the WHO and relevant countries in the most timely fashion... We have released the genome sequence at the earliest possible time, we have shared control and treatment experiences with the world without reservation, we have done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need."
He also defended WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus after the US rebuked him for failing to act. Xi said, "Under the leadership of Dr Tedros, the WHO has made a major contribution in leading and advancing a global response to Covid-19. Its good work is applauded by the international community."
Xi added that at this critical juncture, countries need to support international cooperation. He pledged $2B funding to the WHO for over two years and called for an increase in political and financial support to help the agency defeat the virus. The pandemic has taken a toll on public health and has crippled the economy. So far, the new coronavirus has sickened more than 4.8M people across the world and has killed at least 318,596 people, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said that the US gives its full support to the inquiry. "We must be frank about one of the primary reasons this outbreak spun out of control. There was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives," he said on a prepared video sent to the World Health Assembly. Referring to China, Azar said that one member state concealed important information during the early stages of the outbreak, costing the entire world. "We saw that WHO failed at its core mission of information-sharing and transparency when member states do not act in good faith."
Reports indicate that Trump delayed responding to the threat in the US. But he pinned the blame on the WHO, adding that they gave a lot of bad advice. He also called the UN agency a "puppet of China".
According to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, giving the WHO more legal power may ensure a timely response. "A novel infectious disease could emerge at any time, and we must be able to respond more quickly and effectively," he said.
The investigation will help countries learn from the past. WHO's Tedros said, "We all have lessons to learn from the pandemic. Every country and every organization must examine its response and learn from its experience. WHO is committed to transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement."