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China’s ‘Power Grab’ in WHO Prevented Group’s Adequate Response to Pandemic, UK Media Claims

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The World Health Organisation repeatedly came under fire from the US in 2020 over a perception of its inability to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as over its handling of the probe into the origins of the coronavirus. The WHO failed to confirm the theory that the virus was created in a Chinese lab.

One of the reasons for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) poor performance in preventing the onset of the coronavirus pandemic is that its structure has been “severely compromised” by China, which is only promoting its own interests, the Sunday Times claimed, citing an investigation by the newspaper.

The media outlet alleged that, following the WHO’s criticism of China’s handling of the SARS outbreak in 2003, Beijing decided it “would not accept such public humiliation again”. To prevent that, Beijing purportedly launched a campaign to exert significant influence within global health and other bodies. This allowed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to erode WHO’s independence, influence its decision making, install its own officials, and thwart probes, The Times claims.

In an attempt to stay in China’s favour, the WHO avoided challenging the country’s narrative regarding the spread of the global pandemic, declaring a global emergency and issuing recommendations to other countries to close their borders with China, the newspaper claims, citing its investigation. Beijing dismissed the claims it influenced WHO’s decision-making process as well as rejected claims of downplaying the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in the county in January and February 2020.

The Times claims that Beijing used financial leverage on poorer countries to install preferred WHO officials, and the media outlet named among them the global health body’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. According to the newspaper, this move allowed China to strike a “backroom deal” with the WHO to effectively kill the COVID-19 origin probe.

Beijing has repeatedly dismissed allegations that COVID-19 was accidentally released from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, despite both the previous and the current US presidential administrations mulling the theory. The January 2021 WHO mission to China failed to establish the exact path of the virus, from an animal, a more regular carrier of the pathogen, to a human host. At the same time, the WHO team ruled without establishing proof that it was highly unlikely that the virus was man-made.

© Photo : The Central Hospital of Wuhan

This summer the WHO tried to launch another mission under pressure from the US and other western countries, but Beijing opposed the idea. China insisted that the mission goals are politicised and aimed at “finding” the evidence to support the accusations against the country. Beijing stressed that the new WHO mission is not based on science and refused to cooperate.

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