WHO warns against ‘politically motivated’ information in coronavirus response

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The World Health Organization’s (WHO) head of emergencies on Monday warned against governments releasing “politically motivated” data about the coronavirus pandemic.

“Trying to present oversimplified, simplistic solutions for people is not a long-term strategy that wins,” Michael Ryan told reporters, warning that governments that opt for this strategy risk their citizens’ trust.

“Transparency, consistency, honesty” and admitting mistakes where necessary are a far better blueprint, he added, according to The Associated Press.

In contrast, he said, “if communities perceive that they’re getting information that is being politically manipulated or that it has been managed in a way that is distorting evidence, then, unfortunately, that comes back to roost.”

Ryan did not identify any governments he believed had taken such actions, but had been asked specifically about the Brazilian response to the virus. Brazilian officials, including President Jair Bolsonaro, have repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of the virus, with Bolsonaro comparing it to a “bad flu.” The country is third in total infections among all nations, with 4.14 million cases and more than 127,000 deaths.

The U.S. is set to withdraw from the WHO next year as the Trump administration has accused it of covering for the Chinese government during the early stages of the virus. The administration will forgo tens of millions of dollars in payment in dues to the global body, the AP reported last week.

The comments also come as a poll released Sunday showed that just over 2 in 10 Americans say they would attempt to get a free coronavirus vaccine immediately were it released this year.

Tags Coronavirus Vaccine

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