The WHO’s Failed Coronavirus Response Goes Beyond Structural Issues

February 13, 2020 Updated: February 13, 2020
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Commentary

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) default mode of lies, secrecy, and propaganda blunted its response to, at the time, what was then a local epidemic.

By not listening to and silencing frontline doctors in Wuhan City hospitals, such as the late Dr. Li Wenliang, Chinese authorities exacerbated the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

For that reason alone, China under the CCP isn’t the global player it claims to be.

Only now, after being excoriated in the press, did the totalitarian regime grant permission to the World Health Organization (WHO) to send its “advance team” to China to deal with the ongoing crisis.

The WHO, for its part, made its response and the CCP cover-up worse. By not having agreements already in place with leading nations that have seats at the negotiating table at the United Nations, World Trade Organization, and other institutions, the WHO had no plan in place for how to deal with an outbreak in the closed society of China. That is a failure of leadership and foresight at the WHO.

Since 2009, the WHO has declared six global health emergencies. They include the swine flu outbreak (2009), the wild polio epidemic (2012), the Ebola virus pandemic in West Africa (2014), the Zika flameout (2016), Ebola 2.0 in the Congo, and now the COVID-19 pandemic (2020).

One would think that a multibillion-dollar global organization, with its recent experience in emergency declarations, would have a plan in place for how to respond to the next outbreak. No. That wasn’t the case. It’s clear to this author, and to many media outlets, the WHO is ill-equipped to respond in a rapid and cogent manner to contain an epidemic.

More baffling than its $675 million pleas for funding to ramp up capacity and deliver medical supplies to 60 disadvantaged countries—just like a socialist organization to think about redistributing wealth out of the gate—the WHO has misdirected its resources to combat “misinformation” about the novel coronavirus.

It’s too bad that WHO Director Tedros Adhanom also spent messaging capital to cover up the opacity and failed response by Beijing to the crisis, instead of being forceful and transparent. That action makes Adhanom unfit to lead the WHO; a petition on Change.org calls for his resignation.

What Should Have Happened

With the experience of five emergency declarations before the novel virus outbreak, the WHO should have stepped in with China and demanded transparency and cooperation to identify the origin of the contagion, track who was the first group of patients, and try to ascertain how the outbreak started and when.

In short, China should have given WHO virus samples taken from patients in the epicenter of the outbreak and shared the raw metadata on the virus genome with international scientists. From there, the WHO would distribute three to five samples to independent laboratories outside of China to study the virus, along with the WHO’s scientists.

Then they would share the results of their analysis, publish them, and allow scientists and researchers in the public to examine, corroborate, and question the findings. But none of these steps were taken. That’s a missed opportunity by the WHO in its fight to quell misinformation. They created this fluid condition by their inability to mobilize and respond to the pandemic swiftly.

Thus, who can blame online researchers, investigators, and journalists for pointing out that:

Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has a Level 4 bioweapons lab, is located 20 miles from the “wet” market. Or that a Chinese scientist was deported from Canada in August 2019 for trying to steal samples of a coronavirus. Or that the Gates Foundation-led consortium conducted a coronavirus simulation weeks before the outbreak.

As a result, 40 days into the pandemic, questions remain. Did the virus emerge naturally from a reservoir of exotic animals? Or did it leak out from the institute’s lab? We still don’t know the origin of the virus.

While we wait for independent scientists doing the WHO’s legwork in analyzing virus samples from outside China, information, whether “conspiracy” laced or counterproductive, will continue. This is the fault of the WHO. Also, no one knows whether the Chinese-published genome of the virus is accurate or party disinformation. The CCP still hasn’t shared the coronavirus metadata. So much for the regime’s “win-win cooperation” mantra.

Other Issues With China

Beyond the proximity of the lab, Wuhan Institute of Virology scientists have manipulated Bat-SARS-CoV viruses in the past. To understand what makes a virus tick and become lethal, scientists deploy methods to study certain traits by creating a “pseudovirus” and altering it with “chimeric” modifications. In the institute’s 2007 study, “Difference in Receptor Usage between Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Coronavirus and SARS-Like Coronavirus of Bat Origin,” they did just that—modify samples of the virus.

Since such manmade modifications to previous permutations of the SARS-CoV virus have occurred in the Wuhan lab, then one might understand the thought process of the CCP’s initial response to the disease.

With the COVID-19’s stealthy latency period, no one in Wuhan knew what they had in December 2019. When scientists identified the novel virus and its super attributes of latency, mass replication, and receptors that hook onto cells of a host, the CCP still didn’t know what they had on their hands: a natural or manmade virus, whether it was leaked from the lab or planted by a saboteur.

So, it’s logical to think that the communist regime kept all of the key information close to its vest, not interested to share, perhaps out of fear or apprehension of the virus having leaked from the Wuhan laboratory, and then being blamed as people became infected and died.

If China isn’t going to be a better, more open global player under the CCP, then the regime should be boxed out of the world stage. And if the WHO is incapable of having a plan in place to rapidly identify the origin of the next contagion in a fast, transparent fashion, then the health agency should be defunded of all capital support coming from U.S. taxpayers.

In the next pandemic, the world can’t afford secrecy, cover-up, and a failure to execute a rapid response plan. That will be the only way to contain the “infodemic” decried by WHO’s Adhanom and The New York Times, among other outlets.

Misinformation isn’t the problem. Trust and transparency are the friction points that have failed to contain the growing threat of the pandemic.

James Grundvig is a contributor to The Epoch Times and the author of “Master Manipulator: The Explosive True Story of Fraud, Embezzlement and Government Betrayal at the CDC.” He lives and works in New York City.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.