Say what? Most of us still remember when we did listen to the World Health Organization on COVID-19. That was on January 14th, when despite a warning from Taiwan of the high probability of community spread in late December, WHO sent out this tweet:
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
Tedros and WHO ignored the warning from Taiwan and instead pushed the party line coming out of Beijing. Why? China’s Communist Party has blocked Taiwan from having any separate standing in the United Nations, and WHO is a subsidiary of the UN. Rather than following the science, Tedros ignored Taiwan’s input when Beijing overruled it. It would take more than two weeks before Tedros and WHO acknowledged the risk of community spread. And let’s not forget that Tedros and WHO got warned of that risk from its own researcher at the same time, and ignored her as well.
That’s what makes this argument today from Tedros not just tedious but outrageous:
Speaking at a WHO briefing on Monday, Dr Tedros said: “We can only give advice to countries. We don’t have any mandate to force countries to implement what we advise them. On January 30, we declared the highest level of emergency, global emergency on COVID-19.
“During that time, there were only 82 cases outside China. No cases in Latin America, no cases in Africa. Only 10 cases in Europe. No deaths in the rest of the world. Nothing.
“The world should have listened to the WHO carefully. Every country could have trigged all its public health measures possible. We advised the whole world to implement a comprehensive public health approach – find, test, contact tracing and so on. The countries who followed that are in a better position than others.”
Listened to WHO when, exactly? How about when the WHO scolded Donald Trump for imposing travel restrictions from China after their belated warning on community transmission? This is what Tedros had to say about travel restrictions four days after declaring an emergency. On February 3rd, he was still calling the spread of COVID-19 “minimal and slow,” apparently still relying entirely on Beijing’s public relations for data:
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday there was no need for measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” in trying to halt the spread of a coronavirus that has killed 361 people in China.
“We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent,” Tedros told the WHO executive board, reiterating his message from last week when he declared an international emergency. …
“Because of this strategy and it weren’t for China, the number of cases outside China would have been very much higher,” he said.
Referring to the virus’ spread abroad, he said it was “minimal and slow”, while warning that it could worsen.
Nothing about the spread of COVID-19 has been “minimal and slow,” except to the extent that WHO bought China’s lies and amplified them for several weeks. Had we still been listening to Tedros and WHO at that time, travelers from China would have still been seeding cities in the US with COVID-19 for several more weeks. Indeed, had WHO reacted more quickly, we might have closed down travel from Europe weeks ahead of time and prevented much of the rapid spread of the disease.
So much for listening to WHO to enact “all its public health measures possible.” Rather than acting as a Cassandra, Tedros continued acting as Xi Jinping’s mouthpiece and soft-peddling the disease — until China’s lies became too obvious to ignore. If WHO wants people to listen to it in the future, then they need to fire all of its executives to rebuild its credibility — starting with Tedros, whose chutzpah apparently knows no bounds.