With Beijing desperate to avoid blame for a virus that has killed more than 1.8 million people worldwide, China is tightening up its story regarding the coronavirus pandemic’s spread ahead of a World Health Organization (WHO) investigation in order to avoid being held accountable, according to reports.
The independent WHO probe — which is expected to last around four to five weeks — will involve a team of 10, one of whom told BBC News last month that it wasn’t about finding a “guilty country.” In March 2020, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Leader Dr. Gauden Galea said that the intention is to learn how similar pandemics could be avoided in the coming years.
On Tuesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is “disappointed” that Chinese officials have yet to finalize permissions for the team’s arrival.
In China, COVID-19 — which was first reported in the eastern city of Wuhan — has infected at least 96,278 and killed more than 4,787 people, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, visitors to Tiananmen Square wave Chinese national flags as they attend the flag raising ceremony on Tiananmen Square in Beijing Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (Ju Huanzong/Xinhua via AP)
Republican senators have followed suit, and the Senate Homeland Security Committee — led by Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson — announced in April that they would conduct a “wide-ranging” oversight investigation into the origins of the virus, as well as the WHO’s response.
Even a senior Chinese diplomat, Wang Yi, has argued that “more and more studies” show coronavirus emerged in multiple regions.
While scientists working to put an end to the pandemic may need accurate information to do so, global politics coupled with what Kekulé calls “pure propaganda” may hinder progress.