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WHO Is Not the Voice of God

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks next to Michael J. Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, during a news conference on the coronavirus in Geneva, Switzerland, January 29, 2020. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

The World Health Organization’s record in this pandemic has been awful. No, abysmal. It also appears to be a creature of China.

The WHO ignored a warning on December 31 from Taiwan, based on Chinese Internet sources, that an “atypical pneumonia” had appeared in Wuhan. As the Taiwan Center for Disease Control put it, “In China, the term “atypical pneumonia” is commonly used to refer to SARS, a disease transmitted between humans caused by coronavirus.” Taiwan is not a member of the U.N., and the WHO is a U.N. agency. But that is no excuse for pretending Taiwan does not exist — as a WHO representative did in an infamous interview.

Even though the PRC is the most tyrannous government on earth, WHO repeatedly accepted China’s disinformation about the virus. For example, on January 13, the WHO issued a press release, stating:

To date, there has been no suggestion of human to human transmission of this new coronavirus. There have been no infections reported among health care workers, which can be an early indicator of person to person spread.

It also opined in the press release (involving the first case in Thailand) that there should be no travel restrictions.

The WHO also opposed President Trump’s travel restrictions from China of January 31, warning against causing “stigma or discrimination.”

Indeed, WHO opposes all blanket travel bans during pandemics. On March 13, for example — the day after WHO declared a pandemic–that policy was reiterated. From a Euronews story:

Countries may gain time in the short-term as they limit travel to fight the new coronavirus pandemic, but the World Health Organization thinks overall that “it doesn’t help to restrict movement,” a top adviser to the U.N. health agency’s chief said Thursday.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, who led a WHO team in China during the raging COVID-19 outbreak there last month, said in an interview that travel bans “generally aren’t part of the armamentarium you bring to bear on something like this.”

If President Trump had followed that policy, what a greater catastrophe this all would have been!

And yet, despite this record, YouTube has stated it will remove videos that differ from WHO recommendations and statements about the pandemic. The streaming company’s CEO, Susan Wojicki, told CNN’s Brian Stelter that not only would it remove videos promoting quack remedies — as it should — but anything” that conflicts with WHO “recommendations:”

Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy. And so remove is another really important part of our policy.

That means YouTube would have censored Taiwan’s warning.

It would also have removed any assertion made in mid January that the disease is communicable between people.

And it would have also censored videos arguing in favor of Trump’s China and European travel bans.

The WHO is a human institution — alas, a highly politicized one — and that makes it susceptible to making mistakes and being wrong. Considering its record of failure in the ongoing crisis, it is ridiculous for any media company or streaming service to treat its pronouncements as being akin to the voice of God, and disputations therewith as heresy.

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