A Republican congressman on Friday introduced a bill to investigate the World Health Organization (WHO) for not only its response to the coronavirus but other alleged “systemic failures” in prior outbreaks — the latest sign of growing U.S. pressure on the embattled U.N. organization.
“COVID-19 has killed tens of thousands of Americans and has caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and has cost our economy trillions of dollars, so I think the American citizens deserve to know what role WHO played in this,” Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter, R-Ga., told Fox News in an interview.
The bill would direct the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to investigate and produce a report outlining information related to the WHO’s response, including to what extent it withheld information from U.N. members, the accuracy of infection data and the WHO’s connection to the Chinese government.
It points to a number of alleged failures and missteps by the agency, which has come under fire not only for the handling of the pandemic but its alleged pro-China ties, as well.
Included in the criticism of the WHO in the bill is the tweeting of a claim by Chinese authorities on Jan. 14 that they had found “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” in Wuhan, China, where the virus is said to have originated. The bill also highlights “inconsistencies” in WHO data, praise of China’s response by WHO officials and a delay in declaring an emergency.
It also cites a “longstanding and concerning relationship” between WHO and China, including cooperation for China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
But the probe envisioned in the legislation would also go back before 2019. It looks to investigate what it describes as the cover-up of three cholera outbreaks in Ethiopia by then-Ethiopian Health Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyeus. Tedros is now the director-general of the WHO.
President Trump last month paused funding to the agency, for which the U.S. is the largest contributor. Trump has flagged mismanagement by the WHO, as well as opposition to his travel ban from China as reasons for the pause. He has ordered a review of the organization.
Carter said that the legislative branch has its own responsibility to conduct an investigation, as well, adding that the investigations could coincide or be separate.
“It’s obvious the World Health Organization needs change and there are questions that need to be answered,” he said. “The American public deserve to have these questions answered and Congress, as we represent the American public, should be the one asking these questions and we should be the ones seeking these answers to this.”
It comes amid growing pressure on the organization. A research dossier compiled by the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance of the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand was obtained by Australia’s Saturday Telegraph newspaper.
That dossier finds that WHO toed the Chinese line about human-to-human transmission despite the fact that “officials in Taiwan raised concerns as early as December 31, as did experts in Hong Kong on January 4.”
It’s unclear if Carter’s bill would be able to drum up Democrat support to get it through the House, with most Democrats so far keeping their focus on the Trump administration rather than China, but Carter says he is optimistic it can get bipartisan support.
“This should be a nonpartisan bill because this is an American issue,” he said. “Those tens of thousands of Americans who died as a result of COVID-19 were Democrats, they were Republicans, they were independents, they were Americans — so this should be an American inquiry and an American bill.”
Author: Adam Shaw
Source: Fox News: GOP rep unveils bill to probe WHO’s coronavirus response, past actions