A historic 73rd World Health Assembly is underway, amid a global high-stakes battle against the “worst pandemic in modern history, NPR Goats and Soda reports.
The unprecedented gathering, for the first time ever taking place not in Geneva but via teleconference, gives global leaders a chance to work together on battle plans to fight the pandemic—especially cooperative efforts to secure a vaccine as soon as possible.
But at a time when global solidarity is crucial, disputes and political rivalries are threatening to undermine the proceedings.
“There are two naughty children in the room,” says Georgetown University law professor Lawrence Gostin. “They’re both really big and they’re both bullies.”
100 countries—including Russia and the US—are backing an EU-drafted resolution expected o be presented today that pushes for an independent investigation into the pandemic, according to CNN. China resisted an Australian proposal that specifically targeted China. It’s not clear that the watered-down EU resolution will pass because Beijing insisted previously on an investigation led by the WHO, which has been accused of being overly influenced by China—a charge WHO officials deny.
This morning, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the WHA that his country supports a review of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic after it has been brought under control, The Washington Post reports. He also announced a $2 billion donation to the WHO and called for more support to developing countries in the fights against COVID-19.
Jinping’s announcement is a canny swipe at the US as President Trump appears to be leaning back toward withholding all US funding from the WHO, despite some signs late last week he might be softening, Axios reports.
And WHO itself is also under the microscope; with the US likely to support calls for an independent investigation of the WHO’s response as well, Reuters reports.