Tedros Defends W.H.O.: We ‘Worked Day and Night’ on Coronavirus

“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 for additional funding.

Voice of America News reported on the list of W.H.O. achievements by Tedros, who does not appear to have discussed criticisms of his performance in-depth but appeared conscious of charges that W.H.O. relayed too much misinformation from the Chinese Communist Party about the Wuhan coronavirus:

In its first virtual meeting, the board and its newly-elected chairman, Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, heard Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus say the WHO had worked “day and night” to coordinate a global response to the pandemic.

Tedros said the WHO published its first comprehensive package of guidance on COVID-19 on January 10, and said it has since issued “almost 100 technical documents.”

He said the organization has held more than 50 news briefings and worked with multiple high-tech platforms, including Facebook, Google and Instagram, to fight what he called the “info-demic” of misinformation about the coronavirus that has spread throughout the world.

Since February, he said the WHO has convened more than 400 researchers worldwide to “identify research priorities,” and that they are tracking more than 700 clinical trials globally.

The United States, which has frozen its disproportionately large share of W.H.O. funding pending a full investigation of the organization’s errors during the pandemic, told the Executive Board that it wants the review to begin “now.”

The Associated Press on Friday described the message sent from the U.S. government to the overseers of the United Nations’ health organization:

Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sent a letter to the U.N. health agency’s executive board meeting on Friday saying the United States believes the WHO can “immediately initiate” preparations such as bringing together independent health experts and setting up guidelines for the review.

“This review will ensure we have a complete and transparent understanding of the source, timeline of events, and decision-making process for the WHO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote Giroir, who is one of the board’s 34 international members. Giroir did not deliver that statement in person, but did briefly participate in the board’s first-ever “virtual” meeting.

Giroir alluded to a resolution passed Tuesday by the WHO’s assembly calling on Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to launch a “comprehensive evaluation” of the WHO-coordinated international response to the outbreak “at the earliest appropriate moment.”

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“As President Trump just made clear in his May 18 letter to Director-General Tedros, there is no time to waste to begin on the reforms needed to ensure such a pandemic never happens again,” Giroir added. “We applaud the call for an impartial, independent, and comprehensive review, to be undertaken in consultation with member states, and urge that work begin now.”

The AP described Giroir’s letter as having “a decidedly more diplomatic tone” than the one sent to Tedros by President Donald Trump, but Giroir gently stressed the importance of the points Trump made.

“We further appreciate the mandate given to the WHO in the resolution to investigate the origins of (the coronavirus), and we are confident that researchers and medical practitioners around the world will be empowered in the pursuit of vaccines and other countermeasures through this knowledge,” he wrote in one passage, a very polite way of reminding W.H.O. that it had better complete that investigation in a timely and comprehensive manner.

Giroir also said that when W.H.O.’s governing body, the World Health Assembly (W.H.A.), reconvenes this autumn, it must address “the ability of Taiwan to participate as an observer.”

Taiwanese participation has been blocked by Communist China for purely political reasons, at enormous cost to the rest of the world, since Taiwan provided vital early challenges to the false information fed to W.H.O. by China and devised the world’s most effective response to the pandemic.