Calls Mount for WHO Chief to Resign

Official congratulated China for reporting no COVID-19 cases

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus / Getty Images
April 3, 2020

Calls are mounting in Congress for the World Health Organization's director-general to resign following allegations his group aided China's efforts to obfuscate the number of coronavirus cases in the country.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who goes by Dr. Tedros—though he is not a medical doctor—has repeatedly lauded China's measures to contain the virus despite mounting evidence the communist regime has been less than forthcoming with the international community. A classified U.S. intelligence report recently concluded China lied about its internal spread and death toll.

Several Republican lawmakers told the Washington Free Beacon on Thursday recent events demonstrate Tedros is unqualified for his post.

"Dr. Tedros deceived the world," Sen. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.) told the Free Beacon. "Since the very beginning of this crisis, Tedros has parroted Chinese government talking points, even praising the communist party's 'transparency' during its coronavirus response efforts despite a mountain of evidence showing that the regime concealed the severity of the outbreak."

"At the direction of Tedros, the WHO provided cover for China for months as it attempted to shirk accountability for its bungled efforts to contain this virus," McSally added. "This deception cost lives."

Tedros has repeatedly praised China's response to the coronavirus.

"China is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak despite the severe social and economic impact that it is having on China," Tedros said in February.

On March 20, he repeated China's dubious claim that it had "no domestic COVID19" cases, calling it an "amazing achievement."

Evidence indicates the Chinese government censored information and silenced physicians who tried to sound the alarm about its outbreak in Wuhan in December. One study found the number of novel cases could have been reduced by 95 percent if China had disclosed the situation three weeks earlier.

"The World Health Organization is supposed to fight diseases, not coddle tyrants," Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) told the Free Beacon. "We're in the middle of a public health crisis, but after Americans beat this virus we need to have a serious reckoning with the World Health Organization."

Sasse, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, disputed claims the United States currently leads the globe in the number of coronavirus cases. China's publicly issued data cannot be trusted, the senator said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) joined the chorus of congressional voices pushing for the WHO to implement reforms in the wake of its coronavirus response.

"The World Health Organization has consistently bent to the will of the Chinese Communist Party at the expense of global health and of containing the spread of the coronavirus, from downplaying the extent of the virus to systematically excluding Taiwan," a spokesperson for Cruz's office told the Free Beacon. "Sen. Cruz believes that the WHO has lost the credibility necessary for it to be effective, and a reevaluation of its leadership is urgently called for."

WHO officials have avoided questions about their close relationship with China.

Last week, WHO senior adviser to the director-general Bruce Aylward appeared to pretend not to hear a reporter's question about whether the WHO would consider admitting Taiwan as a member.

China has long blocked Taiwan from joining the WHO; while Taiwan is a self-governing nation, China considers it a rogue province. When the reporter repeated her question, Aylward said they'd already discussed China enough and asked her to move on to the next question.

Aylward also said in February that if he had coronavirus, he would want to be treated in China.

Sen. Rick Scott (R., Fla.) called this week for the United States to cut off its funding of the WHO because it helped "Communist China cover up" the pandemic's extent.

The United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations agency, giving $893 million in 2018-19, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Despite contributing far less to the WHO budget (only $86 million in 2019), China has stepped up its influence efforts at the United Nations while the Trump administration has scaled them back.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), one of the most vocal critics of China's virus response, told the Free Beacon earlier this week that the communist regime is due for a "reckoning."

"China, through its dishonesty and corruption, turned what could have been a manageable local outbreak into a global pandemic that will ultimately cost not only our people, but the world, trillions and trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives," Cotton said.