World Health Organization’s delayed actions on coronavirus need to be scrutinized | Commentary

So far the national media have been quick to point out any shortcoming of President Donald Trump when it comes to the coronavirus and how quickly he reacted.

What has been hardly mentioned is the role that the World Health Organization has played in allowing COVID-19 to spread. The international organization is charged with “working for better health for everyone, everywhere.”

It wasn’t until this week that the WHO finally bowed to pressure from its members to have an investigation on how it failed to notify the international community of COVID-19 despite several red flags.

Outside of President Trump and a handful of media outlets, the WHO has been given a pass. This happened despite warnings early on from Taiwan and Hong Kong that there was something amiss in China. The WHO muffed on a chance to contain the virus at the epicenter by even politely asking for an investigation.

Next, the WHO ignored the whistleblower doctors in Wuhan who were being threatened with jail time by the Chinese government. In fact, on Jan. 29, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, returned from a trip to China full of praise for President Xi Jinping and the country’s extraordinarily aggressive response, which nearly walled off Hubei Province from the rest of the country and the world, according to an article in the New York Times.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but that praise misses the mark by a mile. There has been little U.S. media scrutiny of the WHO and the Chinese response, but that hasn’t stopped media experts from dumping criticism on Trump.

Earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told the World Health Organization it failed in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We must be frank about one of the primary reasons this outbreak spun out of control: There was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed. And that failure cost many lives,” Azar said at the World Health Assembly, reiterating President Trump’s complaints about the WHO.

We agree with Mr. Azar. The U.S. contributes the most by far financially to the World Health Organization. It isn’t just another charity donation. The U.S. depends on the WHO for honest and accurate information about health matters.

Yet, the highly reputed WHO waited until mid-March before finally declaring a pandemic. By that point, 114 countries had already reported cases, and more than 4,000 known deaths had occurred.

But it is President Trump who has “blood on his hands” for deaths in the U.S. — as many Democrats and the media have claimed. The biggest share of criticism — by far — needs to go to China and the WHO.

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