Covid-19: China and WHO could have acted faster and stronger, according to independent expertise

A report in the form of blame. More than a year after the first cases of Covid-19 in China, it emerges from independent expertise that the World Health Organization (WHO) and Beijing could have acted faster and stronger to alert. In its second report, which will be presented on Tuesday, January 19 at a meeting at the WHO, this panel of experts commissioned by the UN agency underlines that“it would have been possible to act faster on the basis of the first signs”, and that containment measures should have been immediately implemented in all countries facing a probable case.

And, they add, “It is clear that public health measures could have been enforced more vigorously by Chinese local and national authorities in January” 2020.

The slowness of the WHO in meeting its emergency committee at the start of the pandemic and its reluctance to declare an international health emergency, the highest level of alert for an epidemic, are also singled out.

“It is not clear why it did not meet before the third week of January, nor why it could not immediately agree on the declaration of a public health emergency of international concern”, they write.

Since the start of the health crisis at the end of 2019, the WHO has been strongly criticized in its response, notably delaying in recommending the wearing of a mask. Above all, she was accused by the United States of having been extremely complacent with China, where the coronavirus appeared.

Last May, WHO member states agreed on the principle of an independent investigation and in July, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the creation of the Independent Group to establish “an honest assessment” crisis management and “learn” for the future.

This panel is co-chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

According to their report, it is clear in hindsight that the number of infections at the initial stage of the epidemic in all countries was greater than what was announced. “A largely hidden epidemic has contributed to the global spread of the virus”, argues the report.

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