Spanish – An Associated Press (AP) investigation revealed how China chose not to provide crucial information regarding the initial coronavirus outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) insisted – privately, never publicly – that China provide the specific data they had, but the request was unsuccessful.
It all started in that first week of January when many – if not most people – thought that COVID-19 was nothing serious. A simple flu although there were informal and unofficial reports from Wuhan that warned of a new and aggressive disease that was severely damaging the human respiratory system.
Contrary to what is popularly believed, the Chinese health authorities were quick to detect the virus and managed to decipher the genetic map in record time. Previous experiences with other similar diseases (severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2002) were likely helpful.
China had everything it needed to alert and inform the world about a new disease. It just had to be transparent, ask for cooperation, and let the WHO do its job. Well, as is evident now, the opposite happened. China hid and restricted vital information about the coronavirus, and the WHO, despite knowing this, decided to turn a blind eye.
The Chinese regime’s non-transparency, and the WHO’s complicity
According to AP, dozens of interviews, sources, and documents from their investigation determined that the Chinese regime withheld the publication of the genetic map or genome of the virus for over a week. This is due to the tight controls and restrictive measures that the Communist Party imposes on government laboratories. AP also points out controls on competition within China’s public health system played a key role in the retention of data on the coronavirus.
The genome finally became public only on January 11, a week after government laboratories had already completely deciphered it. It was released only after the picture was leaked on a virologist website. While this was happening, WHO focused on emphasizing the “great response” of the Chinese regime to determine the real danger of the virus, knowing that they were hiding data and results.
Officials from the World Health Organization itself commented in private meetings on strategies to put pressure on China “without causing inconvenience to the authorities.” The AP investigation shows that the main fear was that, if the WHO made public the regime’s actions and asked for the information directly, the Chinese authorities could retaliate and hide what they knew. Which they did for most of January.
So, WHO not only failed to get quick and accurate information but has now shown that it was irresponsible and complicit.
The AP report itself reveals that, after the problem of transparency with the genome, China took up to two weeks to submit detailed data and reports to the WHO on cases and patients with the disease. Still, the organization’s praise for China continued. The Donald Trump administration accused the World Health Organization of acting as a spokesman for the Chinese Communist Party and being a “puppet of China.”
A compelling case is the one raised on January 3. According to the Chinese newspaper Caixin, the National Health Commission of China issued a confidential notice to the laboratories ordering them to destroy the virus samples, or alternatively, send them to authorized institutes for safekeeping. The order prohibited laboratories from publishing the genetic sequence or warning of the potential danger of the disease.
The fact is that the delayed publication of the genetic map made it difficult to determine the actual extent of spread to other countries, along with the development of tests, drugs, or vaccines on a global scale. The dearth of accurate patient data also made it difficult to determine how fast the virus was spreading, which was critical to stopping the epidemic.
China frustrated the WHO
“We are going on very minimal information,” said American epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19. “They are giving it (the information) to us 15 minutes before it appears on CCTV (China Central Television),” said Dr. Gauden Galea, WHO’s top official in China.
This latest controversy is not the first involving China and the WHO, but simply a confirmation of a timely and revealing fact that would explain many doubts about the management of the initial outbreak of the pandemic.
The following are some of the irregularities between China and the WHO that came to light during this time: 1. Taiwan sent an email to the WHO in December warning of a respiratory disease coming from Wuhan, China (COVID-19). 2. A recent German intelligence report accessed by Der Spiegel magazine indicates that on January 21, Chinese President Xi Jinping asked WHO Director Tedros Adhanom in January to delay his warning about the threat and danger posed by COVID-19. The WHO denied this accusation. 3. The allegations by senior WHO officials that China was torpedoing the organization’s investigations 4. The threats and actions taken by China against Australia because the latter called for an independent investigation into the initial handling of the disease. Australia’s move affected the Chinese regime negatively because more than 116 countries subsequently joined the Australian request.
The World Health Organization constantly contradicted its coronavirus health recommendations. While Taiwan knew that the use of masks is essential, the WHO said that they should not be used. Similarly, the same organization said that “extreme measures,” such as closing borders or restricting or banning flights from China, should not be overdone. Further, the WHO also said “there was no evidence” to determine that the virus was transmitted between humans, according to “preliminary investigations by Chinese authorities.”
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China🇨🇳. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
Ali Mokdad, a professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told AP, “it is obvious that we could have saved more lives and avoided many, many deaths if China and the WHO had acted faster.” However, it should be noted that Professor Mokdad also said that a more aggressive stance by the WHO could have triggered a more defensive stance by China and much less cooperation.
Lack of transparency led to deaths
The period of concealment and secrecy regarding the coronavirus led to the disease spreading around the world. The lost time translated into widespread proliferation, massive contagion, collapsed health systems, stagnant economies, and of course, deaths. China could have alerted the world, but it did not want to. The WHO could have exposed the regime and asked for the support of the vast majority of countries, but it preferred silence. After all these revelations, it is clear that the Chinese Communist Party, with its lies, and the World Health Organization, with its complicity, are directly responsible for the death of thousands.