The WHO and Beijing could have acted faster at the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, concluded the independent experts responsible for assessing the global response, for whom the spread of the virus has benefited from an “epidemic in large part hidden ”.
In its second report to be presented this Tuesday at a meeting at the World Health Organization, this panel of experts emphasizes that “by referring to the initial chronology of the first phase of the epidemic, we notes that it would have been possible to act more quickly on the basis of the first signs ”.
WHO is very slow to declare an emergency
“It is clear to the Independent Group that public health measures could have been applied more vigorously by Chinese local and national authorities in January,” he wrote. Experts also point to the slowness of the WHO when it comes to meeting its emergency committee at the start of the pandemic and the reluctance to declare an international health emergency.
“It is not clear why it did not meet before the third week of January, nor why it could not immediately agree on the declaration of a public health emergency of international concern”, write -they. This is the highest level of alert for an epidemic.
WHO increasingly criticized
Since the start of the health crisis at the end of 2019, the WHO has been strongly criticized in its response, notably delaying in recommending the wearing of a mask. Above all, she was accused by the United States of having been extremely complacent with China, where the coronavirus appeared, and of having delayed declaring a state of global health emergency.
Last May, WHO member states agreed on the principle of an independent investigation, and in July, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the creation of the Independent Group to establish “An honest assessment” of the management of the crisis and “draw lessons” for the future.
This panel is co-chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In just over a year, the pandemic has officially killed more than 2 million people, and just under 100 million people have also been infected. These figures probably underestimate the real toll.