WHO Director Claims Lack Of Unity Among World Leaders Is Bigger Threat Than Covid-19

It’s been over six months since the coronavirus initially appeared in Wuhan, China. Now, half a year later, the virus is continuing to rapidly spread in what experts are calling the “once-in-a-century pandemic.” 

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently held a mission briefing in Geneva where he told members that the virus can be brought under control, however, in most of the world it’s doing the opposite and getting worse. As of this week the Covid-19 virus has infected more than 12 million people worldwide and has killed at least 550,000; although lack of testing facility data has experts believing that number to be much higher, especially in the US.

More than half of the world’s cases have been found in North and South America according to WHO’s latest report.  

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“The pandemic is still accelerating. The total number of cases has doubled in the last six weeks.”

Although the world is seeing massive spikes in cases, there are also many countries that have the pandemic relatively under control and contained. These countries used fundamental public health measures such as widespread testing of all citizens, contact tracing, and isolating all exposed individuals. 

Ghebreyesus went on to explain how this virus may have “upended health systems in some of the world’s wealthiest nations,” but other countries, such as New Zealand, were able to rise to the occasion and implement a successful response to the outbreak by putting its countries healthcare experts at the forefront of policy-making decisions. This briefing also came days after president of the United States Donald Trump and his administration submitted their notice to the United Nations that the country would be withdrawing from the WHO.

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This news has many Americans worried, however, the submission of the notice to the UN is just step 1 in a major yearlong process to actually withdraw from the WHO. There are many outside factors that will make the US’s withdrawal difficult in the long run; such as the election coming up this November and Trump’s need to convince Congress that withdrawing would be the best decision during a pandemic. 

While the Trump administration has consistently criticized WHO’s response to the virus, Ghebreyesus continued to defend it, stating that the UN health agency warned countries early on about the threat of this virus to coordinate global research responses. 

“For years, many of us warned that a catastrophic respiratory pandemic was inevitable. But despite all the warnings, the world was not ready. Our communities were not ready. Our supply chains collapsed. It is time for a very honest reflection.”

The WHO has now created The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response which will be led by the former prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clark and the former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Both Clark and Sirleaf will have full control over who else is added to the panel based on how well their countries have coped with Covid-19. 

Ghebreyesus also called on the world’s leaders to unite in collaboration against this virus, as they should’ve been this whole time. Now that we’ve seen how this virus works within different systems and policies for half of a year, we can better understand how to contain it and stop the spread; it’s more so now about actually implementing those changes.