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WHO negligence on COVID-19

Muhammad Fahim Dawar

The writer is an entrepreneur and mass communication student.

The World Health Organization (WHO) was founded in 1948. The main role is to monitor, research, and spearhead health-related issues and engage nations to take joint actions if needed.  As we are well aware the SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as Covid-19, was first detected in the Chinese wet market in Wuhan. It’s not the first, second or third but rather the seventh human coronavirus that we know to date. Coronaviruses are not new and are the cause of the common cold. Some are not dangerous unlike SARS or its stepbrother SARS-CoV-2 which is more contagious, resilient and lethal.
In November 2019, the first Covid-19 cases were reported but local Chinese authorities tried to suppress the news. They even silenced the Chinese doctor, Li Wen Liang, who warned authorities pertaining to this novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, he later died from the same disease. It is believed that WHO misled the world about this novel virus. The UN health agency was informed on 31 December 2019 by Chinese authorities. Most media outlets started reporting the issue in January 2020.
Before going further into the matter, it is essential to shed some light on the current situation around the world. As of today, the number of Covid-19 cases reached 1.3 million-plus while the death toll has crossed 60,000 people. Things were quite different a few month ago and it’s quite vivid that the pandemic hit the entire world more severely than its plan of origin, China. We have to give credit to the quarantine and other safety measures taken by China once the novel coronavirus was declared a pandemic.
In very beginning of this global health crisis, WHO spread misinformation, negating any human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 and refused to issue travel advisory and called screening futile. It is believed that the Director-General WHO favoured China and didn’t act timely alike his predecessors. The reasons behind these claims are several. The DG WHO is connected with the ruling party of Ethiopia and also served as health minister of Ethiopia in the past. It is believed that because of the massive Chinese investments, Ethiopia did not want to anger China that’s why DG WHO favoured China the issue.
Furthermore, DG WHO praised China for its excellent measures after he visited China on 28 January. When the US imposed a travel ban in late January, WHO criticised the ban and praised China in its official statement. China is a major donor to WHO and contributed more than $86 million last year. China fully supported the incumbent DG WHO in 2017 during his election as the agency’s chief.
Several conspiracy theories are spreading like a wildfire. The United States has accused China of using the virus as a biological weapon. China struck back and accused the US army of bringing the COVID-19 to their country. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson peddled the conspiracy theory that it might be the US army who brought the coronavirus to Wuhan demanding an explanation. The US soldiers had participated in the Military World Games in October 2019. He later shared an article that claims that novel coronavirus originated in the US rather than in China.
Furthermore, the slow reaction of EU over not taking timely and forceful measures along with the Trump administration’s populist policies, which always failed to act during disasters, are also held responsible for this global pandemic. The EU was reluctant to aid Italy and act jointly which caused the mess that we are now facing and a worldwide shutdown.
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