Putin calls on UN to strengthen World Health Organization
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called on the United Nations General Assembly to strengthen the World Health Organization (WHO) in its efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Reuters, Putin added in his video address on the opening day of the assembly’s annual meeting that his government plans to organize a conference for world leaders to share research on vaccines.
“We are proposing to hold an online high-level conference shortly for countries interested in cooperation in the development of anti-coronavirus vaccines,” Putin said.
The Russian leader added, “we are ready to share experience and continue cooperating with all states and international entities, including in supplying the Russian vaccine which has proved reliable, safe, and effective, to other countries.”
The address comes a month after Putin first announced that Russia had granted regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first in the world to do so. Russia’s health ministry said at the time that the vaccine is expected to provide coronavirus immunity for up to two years, despite only going through two months of human testing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert in the U.S., said last month that he had “serious” doubts that the Russian vaccine was “safe and effective.” Weeks later, the Russian government announced it would be testing its vaccine, named “Sputnik V,” on more than 40,000 people.
Putin’s calls for support of the WHO contrasted President Trump’s address to the general assembly Tuesday, in which he criticized the U.N. health body. Trump ended the U.S. relationship with the WHO in May over the U.S. president’s claims that the organization improperly handled the pandemic.
“The Chinese government and the World Health Organization — which is virtually controlled by China — falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission,” the president said in a pre-recorded video address on Tuesday.
The WHO and Chinese officials acknowledged human-to-human transmission of the virus on Jan. 20, although Taiwanese officials had reported concerns to WHO representatives as early as Dec. 31.
The Chinese representative to the U.N., Zhang Jun, addressed the assembly shortly after Trump and called the president’s claims “baseless.”