E-Conclave: WHO was too willing to play down China’s role in Covid-19 pandemic, says Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman also pointed out how WHO has been making several u-turns on its insights into Covid-19. (Photo: AFP)

The World Health Organisation has been panned universally for its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, especially its reluctance to hold China accountable. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman agrees that the WHO has not performed its role as a world body fully.

Speaking exclusively with India Today at the E-Conclave Corona Series, Thomas Friedman said that the WHO downplayed China’s role in the pandemic.

“The WHO did not behave well here. It was slow to declare Covid-19 a pandemic. It was too willing to play down china’s role in the emergence of the virus,” he said.

Thomas Friedman also pointed out how WHO has been making several u-turns on its insights into Covid-19. “In the last few days, it [WHO] has done something bizarre. It released a statement saying that if you get the virus and acquire immunity then you will not be re-infected. A day later, it said we are not you can’t get this virus again if you are immune!” he said.

Full coverage of E-Conclave 2020 Corona Series

“If herd immunity cannot be developed, then why are we looking for a vaccine? A vaccine is based on giving you a small dose of the virus to build your immunity. I don’t know what the WHO is doing,” Thomas Friedman exclaimed.

Last week, The World Health Organization warned that recovering from coronavirus might not protect people from reinfection. It said that there was still no evidence that people who test positive for the new coronavirus and recover are immunised and protected against reinfection.

The warning came as some governments study measures such as “immunity passports” or documents for those who have recovered as one way to get people back to work after weeks of economic shutdown.

“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” WHO said in a statement.

“People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice,” it said.

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