Washington, D.C. – The COVID-19 pandemic has cost hundreds of thousands of lives around the world and pushed the global economy to the brink of collapse. Fortunately, the United States and our allies have stepped up to address the challenges caused by this public health emergency. As we work to recover, reopen, and rebuild, we’ll never forget those around the world who have perished because of the invisible enemy. We must also examine the questions raised by this pandemic, explore the lessons learned, and take every precaution to ensure nothing like this happens again.
Over the last several months, one thing has become clear: the world was not prepared for a pandemic of these proportions. In examining the failures of institutions, particularly those who failed to provide timely, accurate data to slow the spread of COVID-19, serious questions have been raised about the World Health Organization – or WHO. According to WHO’s website, their mission is, “to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.” There’s no question WHO does important work in the world, but the actions of the WHO at the inception of the COVID-19 outbreak calls into question whether the leadership of the organization has lost touch with its core mission, instead becoming bogged down by global politics.
On its face, the WHO has appeared complicit in the efforts of the Chinese government to obscure the origin of the virus and cover up the severity of the initial outbreak. For example, we now know that Taiwan informed WHO about human-to-human transmission in late December, but WHO did not share that critical information with the world. In fact, on January 14, 2020, WHO echoed Wuhan officials’ claim that there was no human-to-human transmission of COVID-19.
China continues to play by its own rules, reporting, at best, questionable data regarding the disease, and has made efforts to disrupt the global medical supply chain. Until WHO stops acting like the public relations firm for the Chinese Community Party, the United States has an obligation to call attention to this hypocrisy and hold the WHO accountable.
President Trump was right to withhold American taxpayer funding for WHO while the U.S. works to determine what went wrong. The U.S. provides anywhere from $400- million to $500- million to WHO each year. In a letter to the Director-General of WHO, the president laid out the many ways WHO failed the world, insisting WHO leadership prove their independence from China or risk losing U.S. investment permanently.
Additionally, House Republicans on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent a letter to the Democrat majority asking for World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai to appear before the subcommittee and testify under oath “for their respective roles in exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic.”
During this global crisis, we cannot take our eye off the ball. China is not only responsible for this pandemic; but also they’ve used it as an opportunity to further their aggressive agenda around the world. America must lead, and to do that we must hold China – and the organizations that prop it up – accountable.