The World Health Organization walked back its claim it had received a warning about coronavirus from the Chinese government, giving support to accusations from President Donald Trump that the organization is China’s puppet.
The WHO recently revised its “Timeline of WHO’s response to COVID-19” on Tuesday after Republicans in the House Foreign Affairs Committee released its Interim Report on Origins of COVID-19 Pandemic. It concluded “despite public reporting to the contrary … China never notified the WHO about the outbreak in Wuhan.”
China task force Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, led the report.
“I’m glad to see the WHO and the Chinese Communist Party have both read my interim report on the origins of the pandemic and are finally admitting to the world the truth — the CCP never reported the virus outbreak to the WHO in violation of WHO regulations,” McCaul told the Washington Examiner. “The question now is whether the CCP will continue their false propaganda campaign that continues to claim they warned the world or whether they will come clean and begin to work with the world health community to get to the bottom of this deadly pandemic.”
According to the report, the WHO learned about the coronavirus outbreak following reports from Chinese media that there was an abnormal pneumonia pandemic and the information made its way online. The international health organization also found a post on a U.S.-based open-access platform Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases on December 31, 2019.
But a prior version of the timeline claimed “Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, China, reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan.” The current timeline says the WHO’s office in China “picked up a media statement by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission from their website on cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan.”
It also says the WHO’s Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources platform “also picked up a media report on ProMED … about the same cluster of cases of ‘pneumonia of unknown cause’ in Wuhan.”
“The first report came from Wuhan, from China itself, so Taiwan was only asking for clarification, and as some people were claiming, Taiwan didn’t report any human-to-human transmission; this has to be clear,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “So, the report first came from China — that’s fact number one — from Wuhan itself.”
While Tedros and the WHO lauded China’s response, internal documents indicated officials in the organization were angry at China’s lack of transparency.
In May, Trump threatened to permanently cut funding to the WHO because of how poorly it handled the news of the coronavirus outbreak. And new information that emerged in June about the emergence of coronavirus from a lab in Wuhan led Trump to terminate a trade deal with China.