While the role of the World Health Organisation during the coronavirus outbreak has been facing international scrutiny, the European Union along with other countries have called for an independent inquiry into the United Nation health agency’s response. According to international media reports, the EU said on May 18 that the evaluation of WHO’s proceedings during the global health crisis is “to review experience gained and lessons learned”. The coronavirus outbreak which originated in China has now spread to over 213 countries and has infected more than 4.8 million people worldwide.
The resolution calling for an independent investigation into WHO’s response has been supported by more than 50 per cent of its member countries. It would also be one of the discussions that the UN body members would indulge in the virtual meeting scheduled this week. Reportedly, the intention of the proposal is to initiate a “stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of WHO’s contribution in a bid to regulate the global response for the pandemic including international health law and its actions within the health system of the UN.
The countries have started rounding up on the WHO since the United States accused the organisation of being “China-centric” and halted its funding. While the US has straightforwardly called WHO’s role during the pandemic as ‘not enough’, other European and Western countries have been rooting for an independent probe including Australia who was also gathering international support to push for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus outbreak.
Since some of the countries across the world have successfully contained the first wave of infections such as New Zealand and Iceland, the EU has said that the investigation shall be initiated “at the earliest appropriate moment”. The Brussels-led proposal is willing to examine many aspects of the health crisis including “the actions of WHO and their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
While the origin of the novel coronavirus has fueled a political spat between the US and China, the WHO has stressed on finding the source of SARS-CoV-2. The WHO's director of infectious hazard management Sylvie Briand has told an international news agency that it remains critical to understand where the virus came from in a bid to ‘understand how it adapted’. The virus has ‘invaded the human species’ since it was first discovered and killed 318,763 people globally.