WHO chief warns leaders against 'politicizing' pandemic

WHO chief warns leaders against 'politicizing' pandemic
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World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Monday of the potential consequences of world leaders "politicizing" the coronavirus pandemic, saying political divisions would hamper a proper response to the virus.

“The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself, it’s the lack of global solidarity and global leadership,” Tedros said, according to The Associated Press. “We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world.”  

Tedros made the comments during a video conference for the Dubai-based World Government Summit. They come during both a push by President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE to end U.S. funding of the organization and a spike in several nations, including Brazil, Iraq, India, and several southern and western U.S. states, including Oklahoma, Arizona and Florida. Tedros did not mention the president by name in his remarks.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that, indeed, the world was not prepared,” Tedros said. “Globally, the pandemic is still accelerating.”

At the same event, the WHO’s special envoy on COVID-19, David Nabarro, warned that regardless of when a vaccine for the virus was ready, the world was likely at least 2 1/2 years from universal access.

“Even if there’s a candidate by the end of the year, the safety and efficacy tests will take some time,” he said. “And then the effort has to be put into producing large amounts of vaccine so everyone in the world can get it and then organizing the vaccination programs.”

Public health officials in both the U.S. and internationally have increasingly expressed concerns with apolitical virus responses becoming politicized, reducing their effectiveness. Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the politicization of wearing masks or facial covering was one such issue.

“Masking has become controversial [but] it shouldn’t be. It’s a simple intervention, a collective action we can all take to help protect our fellow citizens and also to protect ourselves and reopen the economy safely,” he said.