The World Health Organization put out questionable guidance on how to deal with the Coronavirus. It was slow to communicate the magnitude of the threat, and it whitewashed the Chinese government’s early handling of the crisis.
It destroyed much of its credibility, damaged the field of public health, and failed to contain the pandemic. Now is not the time. That’s a bit too early to consider that this event is a public health emergency of international concern.
WHO’s response in part stems from its overly deferential stance towards China, which is its second biggest contributor among 194 member states. A phenomenal collective action and cooperation by the people of China to this response. We would have seen many more cases outside China by now if it were not for the government’s efforts to protect their own people and the people of the world.
The Chinese government is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak. WHO whitewashed the authoritarian governments overall record. It praised China for releasing the virus’s genome while neglecting to mention that it took them at least 17 days to do so. It didn’t report human to human transmission until late January, even though Chinese doctors suspected at least a month earlier. Although the extreme lockdown of Wuhan likely did save thousands of lives, WHO scientists weren’t allowed into Wuhan until three weeks after the outbreak first came to light.
Meanwhile, the WHO praised the Chinese for their openness. China took action massively at the epicenter, and that helped in preventing cases from being exported. If we say there’s a pandemic of coronavirus, we’re essentially accepting that every human on the planet will be exposed to that virus. And China has clearly shown that’s not necessarily the natural outcome of this event.
As the virus continued spreading across Europe and reached America, WHO recommended that the travel industry maintained the status quo. There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. One country that ignored this advice was Taiwan, which also warned the WHO that it suspected the virus was spreading through human to human transmission, and was ignored. Taiwan, which has one of the lowest rates of known COVID infections per capita among countries impacted by the virus, was prevented from joining the WHO as a member country in 2015 by China, which refuses to acknowledge its independence.
In late March, World Health Organization Epidemiologist Bruce Aylward, declined to answer a Hong Kong reporter’s question about Taiwan, or even acknowledge its existence.
As Taiwan was distributing face masks to its citizens the WHO was advising the rest of the world that they were unnecessary and initially the CDC and US Surgeon General followed its lead mask should only be used by healthcare workers caretakers or by people who are sick with symptoms of fever and cough if you do not have these symptoms you do not have to wear masks because there is no evidence that they protect people who are not sick but health experts pointed to mounting evidence that masks can help slow the spread of respiratory diseases especially among asymptomatic carriers a population that the w-h-o maintains is virtually non-existent despite mounting evidence to the contrary in mid-february the w-h-o trumpeted good news from China.
China continued to show a decline in new confirmed cases once again encouraged by this trend ignoring evidence that it may have been a statistical anomaly and US intelligence believes that China has entirely misrepresented both case numbers and death tolls according to Bloomberg News finally on March 11th after Italy was already in full national lockdown with more than 10,000 cases w-h-o finally acknowledged the true magnitude of the crisis declaring a global pandemic corvid 19 can be characterized as a pandemic they could have called it months earlier they should have known, and they probably didn’t know.
World leaders aren’t absolved for their failures by the WHO’s bungling of this crisis but it’s important to remember that if the World Health Organization had done its job, the nightmare were living through, might not have happened at all.