The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wants the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) to testify about the agency’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement on Thursday, Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) called for WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to appear before a subcommittee hearing on his agency’s response to the coronavirus.
“I appreciate the immense pressure the Chinese government places on leaders of international organizations,” Young wrote.
He continued, “As the largest single contributor to the World Health Organization’s budget, American taxpayers deserve to know the truth about the WHO’s response to COVID-19, so that the world may learn from its mistakes.”
Young ripped into the agency’s decision to “congratulate China” despite efforts by the Chinese government to “hide the truth of the disease from international observers and its own people.”
“From the earliest stages, the leadership of the Chinese government sought to hide the truth of the disease from international observers and its own people. In response to this obfuscation, your organization chose to not condemn and push for greater access, but rather to congratulate China.”
Specifically, Young referenced a tweet from the WHO in January that stated, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel [coronavirus.]”
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China🇨🇳. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
Additionally, Young said that it appears officials from Taiwan tried to alert the WHO about how contagious the virus is but were “rebuffed.”
“It is now abundantly clear that other states than China were active and forthcoming about the real dangers of this novel coronavirus. Taiwan made repeated efforts to inform the WHO about the highly transmittable nature of COVID-19, and was repeatedly rebuffed.”
Young’s statement comes shortly after President Donald Trump accused the organization of being “China-centric” and said the U.S. would hold back on funding as the administration looks into the organization’s response to the pandemic.
During a press conference at the White House on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. was “reevaluating” its funding of the organization.
“They have to execute on the mission that they are designed to achieve, and we’ve seen with respect to the World Health Organization … here we are. It hasn’t accomplished what it was intended to deliver,” he said.
Republicans have suggested that the WHO was too trusting of China, and some have accused it of parroting Chinese propaganda. They have also blasted the agency for not recommending travel restrictions in the early days of the outbreak.
Tedros has continued to defend his agency’s handling of the pandemic.