India along with 61 nations have called for an “impartial” evaluation of the World Health Organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, reported The Indian Express. According to a draft resolution proposed for the 73rd World Health Assembly meeting beginning Monday, the countries will seek to identify how the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 was transmitted from animals to humans.
This is the first time that India has formally articulated its stand on the Covid-19 outbreak. In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had backed reform in the WHO and referred to the need for transparency and accountability.
The push for the inquiry came from Australia and the European Union. The 62 countries that have backed the joint effort include Bangladesh, Canada, Russia, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Japan. Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan have not signed on the draft resolution.
The Covid-19 outbreak was detected in central China’s Wuhan city late last year. The disease has so far killed over 3.15 lakh people, according to John Hopkins University tracker. However, the draft resolution does not mention China or Wuhan city.
The resolution asks the WHO director general to work with the World Organisation for Animal Health to conduct “scientific and collaborative field missions” and “identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts”. The seven-page draft resolution also proposes to ask the WHO chief to start, “at the earliest appropriate moment”, a stepwise “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” to review the lessons learned from the international health response to Covid-19.
China, which has been accused of concealing information about the virus in the early days of the outbreak. WHO and its Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus have been blamed for playing along with China.
On April 15, the United States had halted its share of funding to the World Health Organization as President Donald Trump accused the global body of mismanaging the Covid-19 pandemic. The US, the worst-hit country in the pandemic, is also the organisation’s biggest funder, and had contributed $400 million (Rs 3,035 crore approximately) last year – nearly 15% of its entire budget.
Most experts believe the virus originated in a market that traded in wildlife in Wuhan. However, it is unclear how the virus passed from animals to people. Maria van Kerkhove, a WHO specialist in viruses, said it was important to determine this intermediate host.