The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has infected over 30 million and killed nearly a million could have been averted if China didn't cover it up and the World Health Organization (WHO) didn't "parrot" Beijing's propaganda, as per a report by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The damning 96-page report heavily criticized both Beijing and the WHO. It said the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intentionally destroyed evidence while keeping essential goods in the country by nationalizing supply chains. It restricted exports of U.S. companies such as 3M, industrial face mask manufacturer, and General Motors, which also produces ventilators.
"It is beyond doubt that the CCP actively engaged in a cover-up designed to obfuscate data, hide relevant public health information, and suppress doctors and journalists who attempted to warn the world," said the report.
Could Potentially Save Thousands
The report, which was written by the Republic members of the committee, said that if China had been transparent and proactive when the virus first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, it could have saved thousands of lives worldwide.
If CCP had responded early, it could reduce the number of infections by up to 95 percent as per the report. An earlier report claimed that Chinese officials knew about the outbreak in December 2019 while several genomic sequencing companies tested samples and reported it to authorities in Beijing citing similarities with SARS coronavirus. However, no action was taken.
On December 30, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan, Li Wenliang was silenced by the city police for "rumor-mongering" after he posted "seven cases of SARS confirmed" in a WeChat group. The novel Coronavirus wasn't yet identified. The doctor died of COVID-19 weeks later.
It was only on December 31 that WHO's country office in China picked up a media statement from Wuhan Municipal Health Commission and sought more information the next day. It was only on January 3 that China provided WHO with the information as per the United Nations agency. However, by then CCP officials ordered that "Wuhan wet market be closed and sanitized."
It was the placed where the virus supposedly originated but the sanitization destroyed "forensic evidence that may have provided insight into the origins of the outbreak" as per the report, which was obtained by The New York Post ahead of its release on Monday.
WHO Abetted China in Cover-Up
The congressional report accused the WHO and its director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of aiding and abetting China of the cover-up, asking for his resignation. "The WHO has been complicit in the spread and normalization of CCP propaganda and disinformation," the lawmakers wrote, adding the Tedros should accept responsibility for his "detrimental impact on the COVID-19 response" and resign.
Although the Wuhan Institute of Virology had already sequenced the genome of the novel Coronavirus on January 2, the WHO only received it on January 11 and its similarities with 2002 SARS outbreak. But despite that it said that Chinese authorities found no evidence of human-to-human transmission for weeks, the report said, adding that the UN agency also ignored Taiwan CDC and Hong Kong government's warnings.
"From the early stages of the outbreak, the WHO, under Director-General Tedros' leadership, parroted and upheld as inviolable truth, statements from the CCP," it added.
Tedros on January 28 praised China's transparency in providing information about the novel Coronavirus. But other members of the world body were frustrated. "We're going on very minimal information. It's clearly not enough for you to do proper planning," said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead for COVID-19 in an internal meeting, as per the report.
"An examination of their public statements, including the praise heaped on the CCP's handling of the pandemic, reveal a disturbing willingness to ignore science and alternative credible sources," the report said.
However, despite U.S. President Donald Trump said he had begun the process to withdraw from the WHO, the Republican committee advised against it. "We do not believe the withdrawal of the United States or the establishment of a competing international organization is the best path forward," the report said, adding that by remaining part of the UN agency, the U.S. could bring necessary reforms.