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      WHO says 'human race should stand together' on novel coronavirus

      By CHEN WEIHUA in Brussels | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-04-30 03:11

      WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. [Photo/Agencies]

      The chief of the World Health Organization, or WHO, defended the agency's record in its response to the novel coronavirus in a news briefing on Wednesday, saying it has "worked day in, day out".

      The WHO also said it will reconvene its emergency committee on Thursday to evaluate the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and to advise on recommendations.

      Thursday will mark three months since the date when the WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, on Jan 30, over the outbreak of novel coronavirus. The PHEIC alert is the WHO's highest under International Health Regulations.

      "In the three months since the Emergency Committee last met, WHO has worked day in, day out to sound the alarm, support countries and save lives," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference from Geneva.

      According to Tedros, the WHO has worked with countries to help them prepare and respond and has brought countries together to share experiences and lessons learned.

      It has brought together thousands of experts to analyze the evolving evidence and distil it into guidance and has convened researchers to identify priorities.

      He said the WHO had launched an international research trial to find which drugs are most effective, and brought together a consortium of countries and partners to accelerate the development and equitable distribution of vaccines, tests and drugs.

      The WHO has shipped millions of test kits and huge amounts of protective gear all over the world, "focusing on those countries that needed support the most", and has trained more than 2 million health workers worldwide.

      "There's one thing we haven't done: we haven't given up. And we will not give up," Tedros said.

      The WHO chief said that one thing the WHO does ask for is unity at a national level, and solidarity at global level.

      "More than ever, the human race should stand together to defeat this virus," he said.

      His remarks were likely a response to US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who have frequently accused the WHO of mismanagement in its pandemic response and for being "China centric". The US has announced a halt of its funding to the WHO.

      The US action amid the global pandemic has drawn sharp criticism from around the world.

      Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, a world leading medical journal, told the Financial Times last week that Trump's decision to suspend WHO funding is a "crime against humanity". He said he would push for the WHO to be strengthened, not weakened.

      Horton also said that the inaction that followed the WHO's emergency declaration was down to failings of member states, not China, adding that the world should be grateful to the nation for its warnings and containment efforts.

      He has said that the idea China should pay reparations for the resulting economic losses is "ridiculous".

      The WHO first convened its emergency committee, consisting of 15 independent experts from around the world, on the novel coronavirus on Jan 22-23. At that time, there were 581 cases reported and only 10 cases outside China.

      The committee was divided at the meeting in its opinion, and did not advise the WHO to declare a PHEIC alert. A consensus was later reached when the committee reconvened on Jan 30 to declare the highest level of alert.

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