India supports movement in WHO to search for origin of coronavirus; Xi announces $ 2 billion to fight Covid-19

NEW DELHI: India and 120 countries will support a resolution at the World Health Assembly by the WHO seeking independent investigation into the epidemic that started in Wuhan, China last year and has turned into a once-deadly pandemic in a century that spans the entire world.

Under immense pressure, China accepted the resolution and said it would support the resolution, which was drafted by the EU but pushed by Australia. From 62 countries, support for the resolution increased to 120 countries on Monday. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyus, whose role has been under a cloud, said on Friday that the event would be one of the most important (World Health Assemblies) since its founding in 1948.

WHA is the decision-making body of the Geneva-based World Health Organization. The annual meeting, held virtually on Mondays and Tuesdays, is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. India will take over the EB presidency next week. The Indian Minister of Health will address WHA.

Pledging $ 2 billion in assistance to WHO, Chinese President Xi Jinping He said he would support a comprehensive review of the Covid-19 pandemic after it is brought under control. He said that the virus shocked the world and I cry for every life lost and express my condolences for the bereaved families. ... The disease does not respect borders ... nor is race or nationality relevant to the disease. Introducing his own proposals, Xi said: We must also continue to support research into the virus's routes of origin and transmission. This work should be based on science and professionalism, led by WHO and carried out in an objective and impartial manner. It is a sign that China wanted to change the global narrative of criticism of its action, or lack thereof, in the first weeks of the epidemic.

However, China refused to budge on a related issue, that of readmitting Taiwan to WHA as an observer, a position it held between 2009 and 2016. On Monday morning, almost 15 countries, including Belize, Guatemala, the Marshall Islands and Honduras, wrote to WHO DG Tedros asking them to consider including Taiwan's participation in the agenda. While the United States did not put its name in that resolution, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later criticized WHO and China for not doing so.

In a statement, Pompeo said: WHO Director-General Tedros had all the legal power and precedent to include Taiwan in WHA procedures. However, he decided not to invite Taiwan under pressure from the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Director-General's lack of independence deprives the Assembly of Taiwan's renowned scientific expertise on pandemic disease, further damaging WHO's credibility and effectiveness at a time when the world needs it most. He also described China's blockade of the measure as spiteful.

The WHA was opened by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who regretted that several countries have ignored the WHO recommendations. Different countries have followed different, sometimes contradictory, strategies, and we are all paying a heavy price, he warned in one video direction. This was the first virtual WHA, a sign of the times.

The resolution sought collaborative and scientific field missions to trace the origin of the coronavirus, saying that such an exercise will allow specific interventions and a research agenda to reduce the risk of similar events in the future.

He also called for continuing to work closely with the World Animal Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other countries as part of the one-health approach to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction a The human population.

In addition to India, countries that supported the draft resolution included Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Iceland, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Maldives and Mexico. Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Moldova, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland also support the resolution, according to the OMS. The African Group, made up of some 50 countries, also supports the resolution. Surprisingly, the United States is not on the list of countries supporting the measure.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian expressed Beijing's support for the EU resolution. The EU recently tabled a draft resolution on Covid-19's response to the 73rd WHA. All parties have reached a consensus on the text, ”Zhao said at a press conference in Beijing. On the issue of the origin of the virus, all parties agreed that the emergency committee of the International Health Regulations suggest a wording and request the WHO chief to work closely with the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization , and all countries discover the animal source and the transmission routes of the virus through field investigations and discover the possible intermediate host, said Zhao.

The purpose is to reduce the risk of similar incidents in the future, he said.