An independent investigation into the WHO's work, not now, but ‘at the earliest possible moment’

The United States did not thwart the resolution, presented by the European Union. China backs it as well. The discussion on Taiwan’s observer status was postponed. The race for vaccine is on.


Geneva (AsiaNews) – All 194 members of the World Health Organisation (WHO) have unanimously agreed to an independent investigation into the pandemic and the organisation’s work during the crisis.

The resolution, presented yesterday by the European Union to the WHO assembly, at a virtual meeting, was backed by the United States and China.

Until yesterday, the United States had threatened to cut funds to the United Nations agency and leave the body unless substantive changes were not made to it within 30 days. Washington has accused the WHO of being a “puppet of the China".

Other countries have also accused the WHO of kowtowing to Beijing’s influence (and that of Chinese President Xi Jinping) by being late in reporting human-to-human transmission and issuing a worldwide alert, thus favouring the spread of COVID-19.

For its part, China had defended the transparency of its handling of the matter and supported the WHO, refusing an independent investigation until yesterday.

The resolution calls for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the pandemic, not right away, but “at the earliest possible moment”.

The United States called it a “first critical step" to evaluate WHO’s role in addressing pandemic crisis.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the resolution was in line with Beijing’s positions that countries should support the WHO and that the evaluation should be carried out at an “appropriate time”.

The two-day assembly postponed to a future meeting the proposal to include Taiwan as a WHO observer; it had been excluded upon China’s request.

The UN body is increasingly showing its weakness, seemingly without legal authority vis-à-vis its members even when the latter accept international health rules. And now the COVID-19 vaccine is shaping up to be another battleground.

Many countries, including the European Union, are pushing for worldwide collaboration to find a vaccine to be made available to everyone, including poor countries. The United States and China are engaged in their own research, and both have pledged to offer the vaccine at a low price.