China violated the International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee allege in a new report on the origins of the pandemic.
The interim 50-page report, a copy of which was obtained by National Review, also raises new questions about the complicit role the WHO played in allowing the Chinese Communist Party to delay crucial information about the novel virus. It recommends that WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus be removed from his position for his “full-throated defense of the CCP’s response and embrace of their revisionist history,” and calls for an international investigation into the CCP’s failure to slow the spread of the disease.
“It is highly likely the ongoing pandemic could have been prevented,” it states. “As such, it is incumbent upon the United States and likeminded WHO Member States to ensure the accountability and reforms necessary to prevent the CCP’s malfeasance from giving rise to a third pandemic during the 21st century.”
One study has found that China could have prevented 95 percent of coronavirus infections if it had immediately implemented travel restrictions, containment measures, and social distancing after Wuhan laboratories sequenced the novel virus and discovered its resemblance to SARS by December 27. Instead, health officials ordered the labs to hand over or destroy the samples.
The House Foreign Affairs Minority, led by Representative Michael McCaul (R., Texas) — leader of the China Task Force — claims that, despite reports to the contrary, the CCP never told the WHO of the outbreak, in direct violation of Article 6 of the IHR, which requires a member country to inform the WHO of all events occurring within their borders that may constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The argument that China violated the IHR was first raised by Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a member of McCaul’s China Task Force who asked the State Department and Department of Justice in April to bring a case to the United Nations International Court of Justice.
Based on the fact that the initial outbreak in Wuhan was “caused by an unknown agent and from an unknown source,” Republicans argue that the WHO’s guidance criteria for reporting potential incidents was not met. A timeline of the virus’s early days shows that Wuhan doctors noticed a “cluster of pneumonia cases with an unknown cause” on December 21.
“In sum, as early as mid-December, and no later than December 27th, the CCP had enough information to assess it was legally obligated to inform the WHO that the outbreak in Wuhan was an event ‘that may constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,’” the report argues. “Had the CCP not been committed to covering up the outbreak, it would have answered YES to all four of the criteria and notified the WHO. The CCP failed to do so.”
The report points to comments made by Dr. Michael Ryan, the Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, who said in an April press conference that the organization learned of the new disease from “our epidemic intelligence from open-source platform partners PRO-MED” — not the CCP — on December 31. It also points to the WHO’s COVID-19 Technical Lead, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who said on April 13 that “right from the start, from the first notification we received on the 31st of December” she believed “that of course there may be human-to-human transmission.”
“It is hard to reconcile the WHO’s own Technical Lead saying that on December 31st she knew that ‘of course’ human-to-human transmission could be occurring with the WHO’s January 13th statement that ‘there has been no suggestion of human-to-human transmission,’” the report states. “Either the WHO willfully ignored their experts, or they deferred to CCP pressure.”