Well, we knew that WHO knew it too — and blew it, for that matter. For the past three-plus months, the World Health Organization has publicly defended China and hailed its cooperation on the COVID-19 outbreak. WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus insisted that Donald Trump’s criticism and threats to cut off funding were entirely misdirected and that WHO and China had passed along all relevant information on a timely manner. When Trump cut off the funding to WHO over the dispute, most of WHO’s other members took Tedros’ side.
After months of official denials, some WHO officials now tell the Associated Press that concerns got raised as early as January over China’s lack of disclosure. Had WHO gone public at that time, thousands of lives might have been saved:
Throughout January, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately,” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.”
But behind the scenes, it was a much different story, one of significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over not getting the information they needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus, The Associated Press has found.
Despite the plaudits, China in fact sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information. Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame, according to dozens of interviews and internal documents.