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EU calls for independent probe of WHO's pandemic response


AP  |  Geneva 

The European Union and other countries on Monday called for an independent evaluation of the World Health Organization's response to the coronavirus pandemic to review experience gained and lessons learned.

The resolution has the support of more than half of WHO's member countries and will be discussed this week at the decision-making body of the UN health agency, being held virtually this year.

The proposal is intended to initiate a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of WHO's efforts to coordinate the international response to COVID-19, including the functioning of international health law and its actions within the greater UN health system.

The move comes amid Australia's call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the pandemic and WHO's response to it and after US President Donald Trump's repeated accusations that WHO helped China cover up the extent of the initial COVID-19 outbreak. Trump has also called for an immediate halt to all US funding to the UN health agency.

The EU resolution proposes that the independent evaluation should be initiated at the earliest appropriate moment and should, among other issues, examine the actions of WHO and their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO announced the coronavirus outbreak to be a global health emergency on January 30, its highest level of alert. In the following weeks, WHO warned countries there was a narrowing window of opportunity to prevent the virus from spreading globally.

WHO officials, however, repeatedly described the transmission of the virus as limited and said it wasn't as transmissible as flu; experts have since said COVID-19 spreads even faster. It declared the outbreak to be a pandemic on March 11, after the virus had killed thousands globally and sparked large epidemics in South Korea, Italy, Iran and elsewhere.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, May 18 2020. 15:32 IST