The World Health Organization, which has faced criticism over its early handling of the novel coronavirus crisis has launched an independent review into the global response to the pandemic.
Announcing the assessment, which will be presented next May, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it should help the world understand how to prevent such crises in the future.
The Independent panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response will be headed by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“Through you, the world will understand the truth of what happened and also the solutions to build our future better as one humanity,” Tedros said at the UN agency’s headquarters in Geneva on Thursday.
At their last assembly in May, WHO member states agreed to a resolution tabled by the European Union, which called for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation… to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19”.
It said the investigation should probe “the actions of WHO and their time-lines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
At the time, the WHO was coming under attack from US President Donald Trump, who threatened to withdraw Washington’s membership, accusing the agency of botching its handling of the pandemic and of being a “puppet of China”.
On Tuesday, the United States formally started its withdrawal from the WHO, making good on Trump’s threats to deprive the UN body of its top donor to which Tedros responded warning of the consequences.
“Make no mistake: the greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself — rather, its the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels,” he said. “We cannot defeat this pandemic as a divided world. The virus thrives on division but is thwarted when we unite.”
The new coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 550,000 lives worldwide, with nearly 12.1 million people infected since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to an AFP tally on Thursday.
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