Der Spiegel dropped some pretty significant information this weekend. They reported on a German intelligence report that the Chinese President himself, Xi Jinping, told WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Jan. 21, to “hold back information about a human-to-human transmission and to delay a pandemic warning.”
German intelligence estimated that this cost the world four to six lost weeks in the fight against the Wuhan coronavirus.
The WHO is now denying the report.
From the Washington Examiner:
“Der Spiegel reports of a January 21, 2020, telephone conversation between Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and President Xi Jingping of China are unfounded and untrue,” the WHO said. “Dr Tedros and President Xi did not speak on Jan. 21 and they have never spoken by phone. Such inaccurate reports distract and detract from WHO’s and the world’s efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The WHO noted on Saturday that “China confirmed human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus on Jan. 20.” The WHO publicly declared on Jan. 22 that “data collected … suggests that human-to-human transmission is taking place in Wuhan.”
But as Jerry Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner observes, if you look at their response, it’s very narrow. They’re simply denying that Tedros spoke with Xi on that date on the phone, they’re not stating that it never happened or that there was never any conversation.
The Washington Examiner asked the WHO that specific question: had they ever been pressured by China? The WHO has not yet responded to that question according to their article.
The WHO infamously said on Jan. 14, that there was no clear evidence it was communicable when, at that point, there was plenty of clear evidence that indeed it was, as the Chinese already knew.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China🇨🇳. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
On Jan. 22, the WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee met and they “expressed divergent views” on whether the coronavirus outbreak was a public health event of international concern (or PHEIC) and said it “did not constitute a PHEIC” at the time. Tedros was reportedly the deciding vote. Tedros said “at this time there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission outside China” and “it has not yet become a global health emergency.”
Tedros praised China’s response after a meeting with President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Jan. 28.
“Stopping the spread of this virus both in China and globally is WHO’s highest priority,” Tedros said. “We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated, including sharing data and genetic sequence of the virus.”
The WHO didn’t say it constituted a public health emergency until Jan. 30 but yet still didn’t support travel restrictions, saying that were not necessary on Feb. 3, supporting China’s position against the bans. China fumed at countries like the United States, saying restrictions on travel were necessary. Yet they themselves had imposed internal restrictions around Jan. 23, while still letting people fly out to other countries. Fortunately, President Donald Trump ignored the WHO and restricted travel with China on Jan. 31 anyway.
The WHO also downplayed reports saying that it could be transmitted prior to becoming symptomatic, one of the more troubling hallmarks of the virus, as we reported.
They didn’t actually declare it a pandemic until March 11.
Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the GOP’s ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Chairman of the House’s China Task Force, told the Washington Examiner that “we are still working to confirm this reporting, but if it turns out to be true, it’s further proof Director-General Tedros conspired with the Chinese Communist Party in their cover up and is not fit to lead the WHO.”