Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTwo Democrats roll out bill to protect inspectors general from politically motivated firingTrump’s IG firings prompt questions of whether more are comingSenate ‘unlikely’ to return on April 20, top GOP senator saysMORE (R-Iowa) has penned a stern letter to the World Health Organization for being slow to raise the global alarm” about the coronavirus outbreak, joining President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn’t ‘drop dead’ if Trump decided on universal healthcareOvernight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom’s licenseMORE in pinning blame on the organization for the failure to contain the pandemic.
Unfortunately, there is ample reason to question WHOs response to early signs of this outbreak in China. The lack of independent analysis and advice in the face of initial misleading public messaging from China has resulted in several countries scrambling to make up for lost time, Grassley wrote in a letter to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO.
Grassley notes reports from the U.S. intelligence community that China had concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak within its borders, lying about the total number of cases and deaths, and asks if the WHO had reason to believe that the information China was providing was inaccurate.
The senior GOP senator asserted it is the international health organizations responsibility to act independently and raised concerns about whether Chinese political influence had impacted the WHOs response.
The WHO tweeted on Jan. 14 the dubious claim by Chinese authorities that preliminary investigations had found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus.
On Dec. 31, researchers in China had identified dozens of people that had been infected by humans though its unclear that the virus was being spread by humans.
Grassley also notes the number of confirmed cases in China soared from 220 on Jan. 20 to 14,000 on Feb. 1, yet on Jan. 29, the WHO praised Chinas efforts as essential for preventing the further spread of the virus.
Trump has also criticized the initial WHO response and even threatened to withhold U.S. funding, which makes up a big portion of the organizations budget.
Were going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. Were going to put a very powerful hold on it and were going to see, Trump told reporters Tuesday. They called it wrong. They call it wrong. They really, they missed the call.
Tedros later urged world leaders not to politicize any mistakes the United Nations agency may have made.
No need to use COVID to score political points. You have many other ways to prove yourself, Tedros, who is from Ethiopia, said. If you dont want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.
Other governments have criticized the WHO for being too ready to accept Chinese claims at face value. Japans deputy prime minister has called it the Chinese Health Organization.
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBipartisan senators call on China to close all wet marketsBipartisan lawmakers call for global ‘wet markets’ ban amid coronavirus crisisTrump attacks WHO amid criticism of his coronavirus responseMORE (R-S.C.) this week said the whole world should send China a bill for the pandemic.
U.S. officials including Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, say that Chinas misleading reporting influenced projections by other countries that underestimated the deadliness of the emerging pandemic.
Rather than parroting Chinese propaganda and talking points, WHO should be making independent assessments, Grassley wrote. Like many of my colleagues in the U.S. Senate, I question Communist Chinas ability and willingness to coordinate in a transparent manner with international bodies.
The senator pointed out that Taiwan, which has strained relations with China, has been largely shut out of global health discussions despite its impressive track record in keeping coronavirus infections low.
Taiwans Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the WHO imposed unfair restrictions on Taiwan based on political considerations, Grassley wrote.
Taiwan had been allowed to participate in past WHO meetings with an observer status but that has been denied in recent years because of Chinese objections.
Grassley concludes his letter by asking the WHO to respond to a list of questions no later than May 1.
He wants to know whether the WHO was acting on independently verified information when it advised member countries about the pandemic in January and whether anyone contacted the organization to contradict information coming from the Chinese government.
He also wants to know whether the WHO heard from anyone at the end of 2019 about the pneumonia-like outbreak in China and why the organization subsumes Taiwans coronavirus statistics with Chinas despite the two countries having entirely different governments.
Grassley reminded the WHO that the United States has been its largest contributor since 1948 and gave more than $400 million to it last year.
I have an obligation to do my best to protect the health and well-being of U.S. citizens and to ensure proper oversight of U.S. monies contributed to international organizations, he wrote.