Coronavirus. Unprecedented international meeting at WHO to organize the health response

The 194 countries of the WHO meet this Monday, May 18, virtually, for the first time in its history to discuss the international response to the pandemic, with Sino-American tensions, discussions about Taiwan and vaccines as subjects of friction.

Many heads of state, government and ministers are scheduled to speak at this World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the UN agency, which opens at noon French time and is scheduled to end the next day at midday.

Despite escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing, countries hope to adopt a long-standing EU resolution by consensus. She asks to launch ” as soon as possible […] an evaluation process “ to review the international health response and WHO’s response to the pandemic.

The text also calls on WHO to “Working closely with the World Organization for Animal Health, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the countries […] in order to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and to determine by what route it has entered the human population, […] notably through scientific missions and collaboration missions in the field ”.

He also claims “Universal, fast and fair access to all products […] needed for the pandemic response “, and highlights the role of a “Large-scale vaccination against Covid-19, as a global public good, to prevent, stem and eliminate transmission in order to end the pandemic”.

“No subject avoided”

“Informal agreement was reached to adopt the resolution by consensus. It will be an important result because WHO will be the first world forum to find a unanimous text. “, said a European diplomatic source. According to this source, even the questions “Difficult” they are discussed, including the origin of the virus and the WHO reform, which has been loudly demanded by United States.

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“No subject was avoided” in the resolution, including “Continue to reform WHO and in particular its capacities which have proved insufficient to prevent a crisis of this magnitude”, assured the same European source.

“I hope we can join the consensus”said the American ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Andrew Bremberg, on Friday.

Washington, accusing Beijing of hiding the scale of the epidemic, engaged in a standoff with WHO, accused by the President Donald trump to have ” planted “ in managing the pandemic by aligning with the Chinese position. In the process, he suspended the US contribution to WHO.

Virus and Taiwan

Institutional reform, Taiwan, access to vaccines, sending experts to China … There is no shortage of angry subjects, but the question of the origin of the virus remains the focal point of the Sino-American War of Words. The United States calls for an investigation into the matter, as does theAustralia, and suspect Beijing of having hidden a laboratory accident which would have been at the origin of the pandemic.

Washington now accuses China of trying to hack into US vaccine research, in the midst of American-European rivalry over a future vaccine. And US President Donald Trump has threatened to “Cut off all relationships” with Beijing.

At the same time, the United States government believes that the WHO neglected an early warning from Taiwan about the severity of the coronavirus – which the UN agency denies. And the United States, supported by some countries, called on WHO to “Invite Taiwan” at AMS, despite opposition from China.

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However, after being granted observer status, Taiwan was expelled from WHO in 2016, the year in which Tsai Ing-wen came to power. The president refuses to recognize the principle of the unity of the island and mainland China within the same country.

In Geneva, the WHO assures that it is up to the member states alone to decide whether to accept Taiwan or not. It remains to be seen whether a country will call a vote.

If there were a vote, that “Torpedo” the very functioning of the assembly because of the logistical problems it would pose, commented a diplomatic source.


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