Coronavirus: WHO agrees to independent probe of how it handled pandemic

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The World Health Organization bowed to calls Monday from most of its member states to launch an independent evaluation of how it managed the international response to the coronavirus, which has been clouded by finger-pointing between the U.S. and China over a pandemic that has killed over 300,000 people and levelled the global economy.

The “comprehensive evaluation,” sought by a coalition of African, European and other countries, is intended to review “lessons learned” from WHO’s co-ordination of the global response to COVID-19, but would stop short of looking into contentious issues such as the origins of the new coronavirus. U.S. President Donald Trump has claimed he has proof suggesting the coronavirus originated in a lab in China while the scientific community has insisted all evidence to date shows the virus likely jumped into humans from an animal.

WHO’s normally bureaucratic annual assembly this week has been overshadowed by mutual recriminations and political sniping between the U.S. and China. Trump has repeatedly attacked WHO, claiming that it helped China conceal the extent of the coronavirus pandemic in its early stages. Several Republican lawmakers have called on WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to resign.

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