JEDDAH: World Health Organization member states agreed on Tuesday to an independent probe into the UN agency’s coronavirus response as US criticism mounted over its handling of the pandemic.
They also agreed to push for equitable access for any treatments or vaccines developed against COVID-19, and urged an international probe into the origins of the new virus.
Countries taking part in the WHO’s annual assembly, being held virtually for the first time, adopted a resolution by consensus urging a joint response to the crisis.
The resolution, tabled by the EU, called for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the international response to the pandemic.
It said the investigation should include a probe of “the actions of WHO and their time-lines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The decision came after Washington chastised the WHO at the assembly and lashed out further against China over its role in the outbreak.
US President Donald Trump threatened to pull the US out of the WHO, accusing it of botching the global coronavirus response and of being a “puppet of China.” Making himself an example for using a malaria drug against the coronavirus, Trump sent the White House scrambling to defend his decision amid medical concerns the unproven treatment could spark misuse of a medication with fatal side effects.
Trump’s announcement that he was taking the drug, hydroxychloroquine, caught many in his administration by surprise and set off an urgent effort by officials to justify his action.
Britain’s official death toll is at least 41,000 with almost 10,000 dead in care homes in England and Wales alone.
With hundreds of deaths still being reported each day, the current toll, already the highest in Europe and second only to the US in the global rankings, is likely to be even higher.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday recorded a rise in the number of patients who have recovered to 31,634, up from 28,748 recorded a day earlier.
Total recoveries have surpassed the number of active cases, which stands at 27,891. Of the total cases, 251 are in critical condition.
The total number of people who have contracted the virus is 59,854.
With nine more fatalities, the death toll has jumped to 329. The latest fatalities were reported in Makkah, Riyadh and Dammam among people aged 42 to 74 suffering from chronic illnesses.
Worldwide cases have passed 4.95 million, recoveries 1.93 million and the death toll has crossed 323,193.