Tags: China | Coronavirus | who | pandemic response

WHO Forms Independent Panel to Probe Global Pandemic Response

who director-general tedros adhanom ghebreyesus
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Salvatore Di-Nolfi-Keystone via AP)

By    |   Thursday, 09 July 2020 12:50 PM

The World Health Organization announced Thursday it set up an independent panel to investigate how the world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panel, which will select the investigators who will conduct the review, will provide an interim report of its findings by November.

In a statement, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world needs an evaluation for its handling of the pandemic.

“This is a time for self-reflection, to look at the world we live in and to find ways to strengthen our collaboration as we work together to save lives and bring this pandemic under control,” he said. “The magnitude of this pandemic, which has touched virtually everyone in the world, clearly deserves a commensurate evaluation.”

The panel is being co-chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. WHO said Clark and Sirleaf will select other panel members and an independent secretariat to provide support.

In May, WHO members voted in favor of an independent investigation into the coronavirus outbreak.

The independent probe was first requested by Australia. The request received pushback from China because it felt Australia was singling the country out for spreading the virus.

Arthur Sinodinos, Australian ambassador to the U.S., said the goal is to learn from what happened to prevent another widespread outbreak, The Hill reports. 

“Our view was that this should not be seen as just a cross-examination of China. I could understand how the Chinese might feel a bit defensive about this,” he said, speaking in a virtual event hosted by the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, “but at the end of the day this was really an exercise in asking the question, what happened, how did it happen, how can we do things better in the future?”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhoa Lijian said Wednesday that Beijing will allow WHO to send investigators into the country during a press conference

"The Chinese government has agreed to WHO sending experts to Beijing to exchange ideas with Chinese scientists and medical experts on science-based cooperation to trace the origin of the virus," Lijian said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday it is “great” that China has agreed to allow WHO investigators into the country but added WHO “needs to be free to do its real work.”

“We need to make sure the right people are there to engage in this investigation, and we need real answers, not a perfunctory political solution,” he said. “This is about science, not politics, and the Chinese Communist Party needs to come clean with the world about this virus.”

President Donald Trump announced he will withdraw the U.S. from the WHO because he feels the organization is biased toward China. 

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The World Health Organization announced Thursday it set up an independent panel to investigate how the world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
who, pandemic response
Thursday, 09 July 2020 12:50 PM
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