Jump to content
BANGKOK
webfact

WHO weighs science and politics in global virus emergency decision

Recommended Posts

WHO weighs science and politics in global virus emergency decision

By Stephanie Nebehay and Kate Kelland

 

2020-01-28T211637Z_14_LYNXMPEG0R1WR_RTROPTP_4_CHINA-HEALTH-WHO-EMERGENCY.JPG

FILE PHOTO: Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization, speaks during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, January 28, 2020. Naohiko Hatta/Pool via REUTERS

 

GENEVA/LONDON (Reuters) - Most of the World Health Organization's (WHO) criteria for declaring a global emergency have been met, but it is awaiting clear evidence of a sustained spread of the new coronavirus outside China before doing so, some experts and diplomats said.

 

The U.N. agency is seeking to balance the need to ensure China continues to share information about the virus while also giving sound scientific advice to the international community on the risks, according to several public health experts and a Western diplomat who tracks the WHO's work.

 

The WHO has declared five global emergencies in the past decade, including the ongoing Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

Doing so can hurt host countries because it may lead to flight cancellations and travel or trade restrictions, dragging on the economy.

 

In the latest case, the WHO declined to declare China's coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) twice last week, although its Emergency Committee was split "50-50" over whether to do so.

 

"What was lacking for them to declare an international emergency were deaths abroad and human-to-human transmission outside of China," said the Geneva-based diplomat following the agency.

 

"If there was proof of human-to-human spread among the 'imported' cases, the panel would lean towards another finding."

 

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier declined to comment beyond what he told a news briefing earlier on Tuesday.

 

He restated that the WHO's criteria for a global emergency include a "serious or unusual" health situation that affects other countries and may require a coordinated international response.

 

In reply to a question, he added: "It is not 'wildly spreading' outside of China."

 

While the vast majority of the 4,500 or so confirmed cases and all 106 deaths so far have been in China, cases in Germany, Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan where the virus has spread person-to-person have heightened concerns.

 

"As information is coming in, it seems to be confirming our worst fears," Lawrence Gostin, university professor at Georgetown Law in Washington, DC, told Reuters.

 

"So I do believe that the WHO is going to have to declare an emergency and is going to have to take the lead ... You can't leave this to China."

 

'A ROCK AND HARD PLACE'

The WHO's 16-member expert panel is being "kept in the loop" and could be reconvened at any time to reassess the outbreak.

 

"Just because of rising numbers in China now this would not automatically trigger an Emergency Committee," Lindmeier told the briefing.

 

A declaration would lead to boosting public health measures, funding and resources to prevent and reduce global spread. It could include recommendations on trade and travel, although the WHO generally tries to avoid disruptive trade restrictions.

 

The Emergency Committee deliberations are secret and its members have been told not to speak about their debate, several WHO officials told Reuters.

 

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Beijing on Tuesday to discuss how to protect Chinese citizens and foreigners in areas affected by the virus and "possible" evacuation alternatives, Lindmeier said.

 

China has agreed that the WHO can send international experts there as soon as possible to increase understanding of the new coronavirus and guide the global response to the outbreak, the WHO said at the end of Tedros' two-day visit.

 

Some experts believe the Geneva-based health agency is in a difficult position, having drawn fire in the past for acting either too quickly or too slowly.

 

"Essentially the WHO is between a rock and a hard place," said Jeremy Farrar, an expert in infectious disease epidemics and director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity.

 

Farrar noted that the organisation was criticised for having called an early emergency in 2009 for the H1N1 flu pandemic, which proved mild, and then for being too late in declaring the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014.

 

(Writing by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Mike Collett-White)

 

reuters_logo.jpg

-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-01-29
  • Sad 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Matzzon said:

Sience and politics has nothing to do with it. What they must concentrate on is the safety of the single individuals and the people of the planet.

 

That also means that they must put full pressure on China to do everything they can to stop the spreading.

Your second paragraph contradicts the ‘politics’ assertion of your first while your assertion that science has nothing to do with it is simply baffling.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read some place that the Coronavirus is contagious up to ten days before it becomes symptomatic, So before they were checking , infected people that did not know were infected were traveling and infecting others who in turn also traveled and infected others, the next couple of weeks are going to be critical, in  finding the extent of the contamination. I think until this happens they should have shut everything down. 

Edited by sirineou
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Chomper Higgot said:

Your second paragraph contradicts the ‘politics’ assertion of your first while your assertion that science has nothing to do with it is simply baffling.

Explain the contradiction, and what science has to do with containing the spread of an outbreak. It´s the military´s job to contain together with an expert team of scientists that are let in to find a cure or treatment.

  • Sad 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WHO is a bit of an economic / political organization in itself. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, webfact said:

WHO weighs science and politics in global virus emergency decision

whilst Thailand weighs science versus tourism

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, webfact said:

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Beijing on Tuesday to discuss how to protect Chinese citizens and foreigners in areas affected by the virus and "possible" evacuation alternatives, Lindmeier said.

Tedros Ghebreyesus is a Chinese puppet. He was a long time politician from Ethiopia.  And Ethiopia is all but owned by China.  

 

Between 2000 and 2014, China provided over $12 billion in loan finance (usually tied to infrastructure projects undertaken by Chinese firms). There is growing Chinese investment in the Ethiopian economy, while imports of cheap consumer goods from China ($3.4 billion in 2015) greatly exceeding exports from Ethiopia to China ($380 million in 2015). The Chinese appear to be interested in Ethiopia for political reasons (among African countries, its governance and developmental orientation is closest to that of China, and it hosts the African Union headquarters), and as a business partner. Ethiopia's focus on infrastructure has created numerous opportunities for Chinese construction firms. Ethiopia is also a significant market for Chinese exports that will expand as Ethiopia's rapid economic growth continues. For Ethiopia, Chinese finance provides critical support for the government's legitimacy, as electricity, transport, and employment opportunities continue to expand, stimulating economic growth and helping promote exports to other countries. China's "business is business" approach is welcome by comparison to western aid providers who often link their contributions to changes in the Ethiopian legal and political structure. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China–Ethiopia_relations

  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...