Both China and the World Health Organization (WHO) could have responded more quickly to prevent a disaster when the Covid-19 outbreak was in its initial stages.
That is the conclusion from a group of independent experts led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who have been examining the early days of the pandemic in China.
In a report from the expert team, the group states that a largely hidden epidemic contributed to the global spread and in retrospect, it is clear that the number of cases of infection in the early stages of the epidemic in all countries was higher than reported.
The evaluation “suggests that there was potential for a quicker response to early signs,” the report said.
Many aspects surrounding the pandemic are still very unclear and have been criticized in the report. The coronavirus was first discovered in the Chinese million-strong city of Wuhan in late December 2019.
Among other things, it is unclear why the WHO’s crisis committee did not meet until the third week of January 2020 and why WHO only declared the corona outbreak an international health crisis on 30 January 2020. It is also questionable why WHO did not use the word pandemic at all until 11 March 2020.
It is further stated in the report that the measures to limit and prevent spread that was introduced in a large number of countries in the spring of 2020 should have been implemented immediately wherever there was a risk of infection.
WHO should furthermore have explained the danger of the airborne virus and recommended the use of face masks earlier.
At least two million people have lost their lives since December 2019 and nearly 100 million cases of infection have been confirmed. However, most experts agree that the real number is higher.