United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, on Thursday, publicly denounced countries that openly rebuked facts about the coronavirus pandemic and rejected safety protocols that the World Health Organization (WHO) released.
In a special session of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on the coronavirus, Guterres addressed the issue that has led to millions of infections and fatalities worldwide. The two-day meeting included several pre-recorded videos that country leaders submitted.
Guterres said that the WHO had provided accurate and factual information about the COVID-19 virus and how to properly tackle the pandemic. The guidance and orders should have been the basis of nations around the world for a coordinated global response.
However, the official said that most countries ignored the recommendations the organization gave, and some even rebuked facts and evidence about the threat of the virus. Guterres noted that when every nation tackled the problem in their direction, the virus spread quickly throughout the world.
Earlier this year, United States President Donald Trump cut funding to the WHO and announced his plans to separate from the organization, accusing the Geneva-based body of conspiring with China in hiding the truth about the pandemic. Trump’s order would have had the U.S. withdraw from the WHO effective in July next year. However, President-elect Joe Biden said he would rescind the order.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “The pandemic underscores the importance of the World Health Organization, an institution that needs to be strengthened.”
Tensions between the United States and Beijing on the pandemic reached its peak at the United Nations. During the gathering, the two countries’ arguments showcased Beijing’s desire for greater multilateral influence to rival Washington’s global foothold.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar did not identify any country in their General Assembly statements. However, both officials made vague references to specific nations.
Wang said, “The world is braced for a second wave of infection; what lies ahead is a tenuous and uphill battle.” He added that all countries should work together to eradicate the virus, noting that major nations should work on becoming role models.
Azar criticized the apparent lack of information sharing, arguing that withholding necessary facts caused devastating repercussions worldwide. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Washington has criticized Beijing for its lack of transparency that U.S. officials claim caused the massive surge of infections.
U.N. General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said that now was not the time to be bickering amongst ourselves. He noted that the United Nations had the responsibility of leading world leaders in their fight against the COVID-19 virus.
Guterres plans to push through with his agenda of making the coronavirus vaccine available for all nations and to have rich countries help in the development of the treatment to support poorer countries, News Max reported.
French President Emmanual Macron said that his country proposed a donation scheme that would prioritize distribution of the treatment to select groups in developing countries.
Britain’s Health Secretary Matthew Hancock said in his statement that countries should be more open with their export regulations and tariffs to allow vital items such as the vaccine and protective equipment to be distributed quickly. He said, “We will put this into action ourselves from the 1st of January.”