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18 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

WHO agrees to independent assessment of its coronavirus response

By Samuel Horti

The World Health Organisation has agreed to an independent assessment of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which will begin at the “earliest appropriate moment”.

The European Union had called for the assessment, and was backed by most WHO members, including the UK. The WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus vowed transparency from the WHO.

“We all have lessons to learn from the pandemic. Every country and every organisation must examine its response and learn from its experience. WHO is committed to transparency, accountability and continuous improvement,” he said.

The review must consider the responsibility of “all actors in good faith”, he said.

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Chinese president Xi Jinping backed calls for an independent review of the global response, but only after the virus was under control.

Ghebreyesus warned that the world could not afford “short-term amnesia” when it comes to pandemic planning, and that countries must be more united in their future responses.

“Whatever lessons there are to learn from this pandemic, the greatest failing would be to not learn from them, and to leave the world in the same vulnerable state it was before,” he said. “If there is anything positive to come from this pandemic, it must be a safer and more resilient world.”

Last month, Lawrence Freedman, emeritus professor of war studies at King’s College London, wrote about how the WHO’s failure to challenge China over coronavirus cost the world dearly in a piece for the New Statesman.