Spanish – It can’t be, but it is. The World Health Organization (WHO) hid a strong and critical report on the management of the coronavirus in Italy during the beginning of the pandemic. The report revealed the chaos, improvisation, and even the possible negligence of the health authorities that are now under the focus of the judiciary for failing to prevent deaths from this virus, which, since then, amount to 64,000.
The document containing an assessment of the first actions titled, “An unprecedented challenge: Italy’s first response,” was “hastily” removed from the WHO website just 24 hours after its publication, ABC says.
The 102-page report, funded by the government of Kuwait, was intended to alert countries that were not yet registering cases in February with the endorsement of 11 European WHO scientists, led by Italian Francesco Zambon, coordinator of the Venice health authority.
A hidden effort
All the effort to avoid contagion was lost by order of Ranieri Guerra, a doctor with a long career in health policy who took advantage of his position as director-general of prevention in Health at the Ministry of Health and vice-president of the WHO for Europe, reports ABC.
Now, the public prosecutor’s office of Bergamo, the province of Lombardy most affected during the first stage of the coronavirus, is investigating the responsibility of the Italian authorities to verify the possible participation of the Ministry of Health in the elimination of the report mentioned above from the website of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The study states that “Italy was not prepared” to face the emergency that officially exploded on February 21 because its latest health plan against an eventual epidemic was the same as the one from 2006. But “it was never updated,” ABC points out.
Only in 2017, it was revised without the director-general of health prevention of the Ministry of Health, who, at that time was Ranieri Guerra, the current representative of the WHO for Europe and member of the Italian technical committee on COVID who asked to censor the report.
Scientists confronted by the truth
The 11 scientists who prepared the report want answers and to know the truth about what happened. They accuse Ranieri Guerra of being responsible for the withdrawal of the report under pressure, says ABC. Francesco Zambon says that a month before publication, he sent a draft of the report to Guerra, who then shared it with Health Minister Roberto Speranza.
After some emails sent in May to Francesco Zambon by Guerra and Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe who also wrote the introduction to the deleted document, they seem to indicate that there was indeed “a real agreement between the WHO and the Ministry of Health” to keep the relationship secret.
The Financial Times and The Guardian call the event a “conspiracy between the WHO and the Italian government to remove the report from the web”, quoting ABC. And Zambon claims that he was pressured by Ranieri Guerra to change some points in the report that included threats of dismissal.
The head of the Italian Ministry of Health, Roberto Speranza, denies any involvement in the matter and hides behind a request for a reform of the WHO to have “more transparency.”
But the scandal has escalated, and even the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, has shown himself to be “against the immunities” of the WHO researchers.
With “desperation,” Zambon confesses that he alerted health officials warning them of the danger posed by the handling of the pandemic in the country but was ignored even though “the report had the potential to save lives and the responsibility of the WHO was at stake,” quotes ABC.
However, the court disassociates itself from the accusations and responds that it disregarded the report due to “inaccuracies and inconsistencies,” but the authors debate the argument, pointing out that it was then appropriate to correct and move forward. The Italian justice system will investigate, but the WHO has already refused to allow the scientists who signed the report to testify.
Zambon is the exception. This one was already presented to the public prosecutor’s office in Bergamo two days ago. Prosecutors are also using a report made after the first wave by a retired Army general, Pier Paolo Lunelli, who concluded that 10,000 deaths could be attributed to the “lack of sufficient protocols against pandemics,” ABC reports.
Other institutional discredit
This is not the first time that WHO has been singled out for covering up a country’s mistakes in handling the pandemic. Before knowing the situation in Italy, it highlights as “the extreme example of complicity” the complacent relationship with China in the face of the concealment of the chaos in the first weeks that caused incalculable sanitary consequences for the country and for the world, Infobae divulges.
When the WHO mission traveled to Wuhan, they were prevented from visiting the exotic animal market in the city where the pandemic is believed to have emerged. Ten months have passed since then, and to date, there are no results of “a transparent and independent investigation on the origins of the virus,” Infobae indicates.