Saturday 30 May, 2020

China announces $2 billion in virus help at WHO assembly

File photo.

File photo.

China will provide $2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic, President Xi Jinping said Monday, rallying around the World Health Organization and its efforts even as the Trump administration has slashed funding for the UN health agency.

The European Union's 27-member bloc and other countries, meanwhile, called for an independent evaluation of WHO's initial response to the coronavirus pandemic "to review experience gained and lessons learned."

In a speech to the World Health Assembly, Xi said China had provided all relevant outbreak data to WHO and other countries, including the virus' genetic sequence, "in a most timely fashion."

"We have shared control and treatment experience with the world without reservation," Xi said. "We have done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need."

The $2 billion over the next two years will support COVID-19 response efforts, particularly in developing countries, Xi said.

The EU resolution proposes that the independent evaluation should be initiated "at the earliest appropriate moment" and should, among other issues, examine "the actions of WHO and their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic."

WHO announced the coronavirus outbreak to be a global health emergency on Jan. 30, its highest level of alert. In the following weeks, WHO warned countries there was a narrowing "window of opportunity" to prevent the virus from spreading globally.

WHO officials, however, repeatedly described the transmission of the virus as "limited" and said it wasn't as transmissible as flu; experts have since said COVID-19 spreads even faster. It declared the outbreak to be a pandemic on March 11, after the virus had killed thousands globally and sparked large epidemics in South Korea, Italy, Iran and elsewhere.

Xi said he also supported the idea of a comprehensive review of the global response to COVID-19.

"This work should be based on science and professionalism, led by WHO and conducted in an objective and impartial manner," he said. 

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