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WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the COVID-19 press briefing on March 11, 2020, the day the coronavirus outbreak was classed as a pandemic. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 30 this year and then characterized it as a pandemic on March 11.

Declaring a PHEIC is the highest level of alert that WHO is obliged to declare, and is meant to send a powerful signal to countries of the need for urgent action to combat the spread of the disease, mobilize resources to help low- and middle-income countries in this effort and fund research and development on needed treatments, vaccines and diagnostics. It also obligates countries to share information with WHO.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Chinese government has effectively “intimidated” the World Health Organization, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) claimed this week. As a brand-new infectious disease rapidly spread across the globe, Rubio argued, China didn’t share information, best practices and data on infections among health-care workers.

However, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised China’s early efforts to combat the disease. But the result, Rubio points out, is that the United States — and every other country — is effectively on its own as the world tries to deal with this new coronavirus.

This isn’t the first time critics have accused China of covering up or downplaying the severity of an infectious disease outbreak.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Thursday, after delaying for an extra day of deliberation, the World Health Organization decided not to declare the outbreak of pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus to be a PHEIC — a public health emergency of international concern.

The WHO’s decision has surprised many global health experts, particularly after the urgency and severity of China’s internal response. A lockdown of the city of Wuhan has become an unprecedented quarantine of 48 million people in central China. The WHO announcement raises critical questions about how the organization makes its decisions — and, in particular, the role of politics in that process.…  Seguir leyendo »