Senate subcommittee chairman requests WHO director-general’s testimony

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Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) has requested the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) appear before Congress to address the organization’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

Young, the chairman of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee subpanel that oversees the WHO, wrote in a letter to Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday that he was “deeply concerned” about the Chinese government’s influence on WHO and its early actions as the pandemic took shape, saying it had “overwhelming and dangerous consequences.”

He said the subcommittee will investigate Tedros and how Americans will fund the organization in the future.

“As the largest single contributor to the World Health Organization’s budget, American taxpayers deserve to know the truth about the WHO’s response to COVID-19, so that the world may learn from its mistakes,”  Young wrote in the letter.

The Indiana senator claims that the WHO has not obtained “real, verifiable data about the number and nature” of coronavirus cases in China, which has limited the organization’s and the rest of the world’s ability to combat the virus. He said the WHO “failed to carry out” its “critical function” of sending out accurate information to health officials and the public.

“I am now left with deep skepticism about the WHO’s role in the global response to COVID-19, and fear that China’s influence in the organization has had overwhelming and dangerous consequences,” Young wrote. 

“The Chinese government’s systematic failure, a failure verified by our intelligence community, to accurately report the number of cases is damaging our epidemiological knowledge of COVID-19,” he added.

U.S. lawmakers and officials have accused China of downplaying the virus and its number of cases to WHO, causing an eight-day delay in declaring a public health emergency.

The WHO issued the declaration on Jan. 30. In the meantime, the WHO has repeatedly congratulated China for its transparency during the crisis.

Young also cited instances where the WHO tweeted on Jan. 14 that Chinese authorities said there was “no clear evidence” of human-to-human transmissions.

President Trump said Tuesday he was considering suspending America’s payments to the WHO, criticizing them for the response to the pandemic.

Tags China Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Todd Young WHO World Heath Organization

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