The World Health Organization has updated its chronology of the coronavirus pandemic to say that it was not alerted by China to the first pneumonia cases in Wuhan. The global health body said its own regional office had picked up a media statement by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission from their website on cases of “viral pneumonia”.

On April 9, the World Health Organization had published an initial timeline of its communication about the pandemic after United States President Donald Trump accused it of failing to provide information and of being complacent towards Beijing.

In the chronology, the WHO had said that on December 31, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission in Hubei province had reported cases of pneumonia to it. However, the global health body did not specify the identity of who notified them of the development.

On April 20, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had told reporters that the first report of the pneumonia cases had come from China, but he did not specify whether the report had been sent by Chinese authorities or by another source. “The report first came from China – that’s fact number one - from Wuhan itself,” he had said.

But a new chronology, published this week by the global health agency, offered a more detailed version of the events. It indicated that it was the WHO country office in China that notified the organisation of contact of a case of “viral pneumonia” on December 31, after having found a declaration for the media on a Wuhan health commission website.

The same day, WHO’s epidemic information service picked up another news report transmitted by the international epidemiological surveillance network ProMed – based in the United States – about the same group of cases of “pneumonia of unknown causes” in Wuhan.

The UN health body then asked the Chinese authorities on January 1 and January 2 for information about these cases. China informed WHO on January 3.

Trump has time and again accused the world health body of helping China cover up the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. On May 18, Trump had given WHO an ultimatum of 30 days to make “substantive improvements” after which, he said he would permanently freeze funding to it. The US is the largest contributor to the global agency. The country had contributed $400 million (approximately Rs 3,040 crore) to the organisation last year – nearly 15% of its entire budget.

The WHO has denied Trump’s claims that it promoted Chinese “disinformation” about the coronavirus.

Clinical trial results of drugs expected within two weeks

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization on Friday said it should get interim results from clinical trials of drugs that might be effective in treating Covid-19 patients within next two weeks, Reuters reported.

“Nearly 5,500 patients in 39 countries have so far been recruited into the Solidarity trial,” Ghebreyesus said. “We expect interim results within the next two weeks.”

The Solidarity Trial started out in five parts looking at potential treatment for the coronavirus: standard care; remdesivir; the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine; the HIV drugs lopinavir/ritonavir; and lopanivir/ritonavir combined with interferon.

However, on June 18, WHO halted trials of the hydroxychloroquine, claiming it had showed no benefit in reducing the mortality rate. US President Donald Trump has frequently touted the drugs for its effectiveness to stave off Covid-19, and has even claimed to have used it himself.

No coronavirus vaccine has been approved yet for commercial use anywhere in the world. The World Health Organization’s latest draft landscape of Covid-19 candidate vaccines shows 16 candidate vaccines in clinical trials and 125 candidate vaccines in pre-clinical evaluation. One of the leading candidates in terms of timing is the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 experimental vaccine, which is in the stage of human trials.

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