WHO Official Pushes Back on Criticism of Organization’s Handling of the Coronavirus Outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) is pushing back against allegations that it failed to inform the world about the coronavirus accurately.

Several lawmakers and administration officials have accused the agency of failing to investigate the outbreak of the virus in China properly. They have typically pointed to a January 14 tweet from the WHO that said “preliminary investigations” found that human to human transmission of the virus was not possible.

Several reports have indicated that Chinese officials were aware that the virus could spread between humans as early as December 2019.

Additionally, there have been numerous reports detailing the Chinese government’s alleged attempts to hide or even destroy crucial details about the virus in the early days of the outbreak.

The WHO has been accused of acting as a puppet for the Chinese government, and of spreading Chinese propaganda. But, officials at the agency defended its response and argued it has limited authority to investigate beyond what Chinese officials tell them.

“We don’t have, in the World Health Organization, the power to go and inspect beyond what countries tell us,” WHO Special Envoy David Nabarro said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday.

He added, “That’s been made clear in the treaty that governments agreed in 2005 on how nations work together and how the WHO operates.”

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Nabarro continued to defend China, and the WHO’s response to the outbreak, “[China] did invite a team, pulled together by the World Health Organization, to come and inspect everything in mid-February.”

He also said that the Chinese government did not place “restrictions” on the team that was sent to inspect the situation.

Finally, he said that the WHO was able to get access to the information it requested. He added, “And so, therefore, I do not like, at any time, to say we don’t believe.”

“We believe what we’ve got. We work with what we’ve got. That’s how we operate in the World Health Organization,” he said.

On Sunday, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb argued that China was “not truthful with the world at the outset of this.”

He also said that the WHO should investigate “what China did or didn’t tell the world and how that stymied the global response to this.”