Apr 12, 2020 - World

Ex-FDA head calls for investigation of China's response to coronavirus

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday that the World Health Organization should commit to an "after-action report" on what China "did and didn't tell the world" about the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Gottlieb, who has become a leading voice in the coronavirus response outside the Trump administration, said China may have been able to contain the virus entirely if officials were truthful about the extent of the initial outbreak in Wuhan.

What he's saying: "There is some growing evidence to suggest that as late as January 20, [China] was still saying there was no human to human transmission, and the WHO was validating those claims on January 14, sort of enabling the obfuscation from China," Gottlieb said.

  • "I think going forward, the WHO needs to commit to an after-action report that specifically examines what China did or didn't tell the world, and how that stymied the global response to this."

The other side: WHO special envoy David Nabarro said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the organization is not in a position to cast doubt on the health information that countries provide, including China.

  • "We don't have in the World Health Organization the power to go and inspect beyond what countries tell us," Nabarro said. "That's been made clear in the treaty that governments agreed in 2005 on how nations work together and how the WHO operates. We believe what we've got. We work with what we've got."

The big picture: Gottlieb dismissed President Trump's suggestion that the U.S. should cut funding to the WHO, pointing out that it will be needed when the coronavirus hits countries in the Southern Hemisphere and parts of the world that don't have adequate health resources.

  • He also encouraged the WHO to give membership to Taiwan and allow it to attend the World Health Assembly, saying the country's exclusion at the behest of China has hampered the global response to the pandemic.

Go deeper ... Timeline: The early days of China's coronavirus outbreak and cover-up

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