Exactly one year ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) falsely claimed that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus.
“Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China,” the WHO tweeted on January 14, 2020.
Since then there have been over 93 million coronavirus cases worldwide and nearly two million people have died as a result of the virus. In Canada, 687,000 people have contracted the coronavirus and 17,508 deaths have been reported since the pandemic began.
The erroneous claim, which was based on false reports by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP,) was spread by the global organization despite the fact that China was hurryingly buying up the world’s personal protective equipment supply.
Meanwhile, Canada has not been immune to China’s influence on the coronavirus narrative.
As the pandemic was surging throughout the country, Liberal Health Minister Patty Hajdu echoed CCP talking points and discouraged closing Canada’s borders.
“The praise I offered China during the early days was based on their historic containment efforts. Don’t forget that there were millions and millions of Chinese people under, essentially confinement, if you will, for a very long time and in fact in some of those cities people are just getting back to normal and that was a public health measure that was never seen before,” said Hajdu defending her remarks.
Hajdu’s enthusiasm for China was so forthcoming that the Chinese foreign ministry praised the minister for her support.
“We noticed relevant reports and applaud the Canadian health minister’s objective and fair remarks,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin.
According to a report by the US Department for Homeland Security, the CCP “intentionally concealed the severity” of the virus while it was restricting exports of medical supplies and hoarding up goods abroad.
Even by February 2020, the WHO continued to advocate on China’s behalf, encouraging international allies to not ban flights from China, claiming that it would “unnecessarily interfere with international trade.”
Since then, critics have accused the international organization of kowtowing to Chinese interests.
A 2020 study by the University of Ottawa and the Université de Sherbrooke revealed how the WHO promoted Chinese narratives over focusing on the hard facts of the situation.
“It is difficult to distinguish World Health Organization recommendations based on science and expertise versus political recommendations,” the report says.
“For example, China’s actions were praised on multiple occasions by the WHO without scientific background and context.”
Researchers found that the WHO’s contradictory messaging and public relations failed to reduce stress and misinformation.