WHO pandemic review panel critical of China, WHO delays

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GENEVA, Jan 18 (Reuters) – An independent panel reviewing the global handling of the COVID-19 pandemic said on Monday that Chinese officials could have applied public health measures more forcefully in January and criticised the World Health Organization (WHO) for not declaring an international emergency until Jan. 30.

In an interim report the panel of experts, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said: “The global pandemic alert system is not fit for purpose”, adding: “The World Health Organization has been underpowered to do the job”.

It called for a “global reset” and said it would provide recommendations in a final report to health ministers in May.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Josephine Mason and Alex Richardson)

Photo A health worker walks past people waiting at a vaccination center during a government-organized media tour, in Beijing, China, 15 January 2021. According to the organizer’s information, Beijing has administrated a total of 1.5 million vaccine doses. China on 14 January reported its first death from Covid-19 disease in eight months, while an international expert team from the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived at Wuhan on the same day to conduct joint scientific research with Chinese scientists to investigate Covid-19. EPA-EFE/ROMAN PILIPEY

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