World Health Organization members agree to COVID-19 probe
Updated 00:41, 21-May-2020
Toni Waterman in Brussels

A motion to establish an independent review into the global response and origins of the coronavirus has been unanimously adopted at the World Health Assembly. 

None of the World Health Organization's (WHO) 194 members, including China and the United States, objected to the resolution.

In his closing remarks to the Assembly, WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus reiterated his commitment to carrying out an independent probe "at the earliest appropriate moment."

"We welcome any initiative to strengthen global health security and to strengthen WHO," Tedros said. "WHO remains fully committed to transparency, accountability & continuous improvement."

The motion was drafted up by the European Union (EU) and Australia.

It calls for an "impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of the international response to the pandemic so world leaders can decipher what has worked and what hasn't worked.

Specific "timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic" will be investigated after some accused the organization of being too slow to declare a public health emergency.

The motion also calls for the source of the coronavirus to be identified so health officials can understand how the virus passed from animal to human to prevent similar transmissions in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic has infected and killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world. /Dimitar Dilkof/AFP

The COVID-19 pandemic has infected and killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world. /Dimitar Dilkof/AFP

US rejects calls for affordable vaccine

Member states also urged governments to ensure "transparent, equitable and timely access" to treatments and vaccines. Fear is mounting that poorer nations will be left fending for themselves if richer nations pay their way to vaccination.

The United States rejected this part of the resolution, issuing a statement after the vote saying that while it "recognizes the importance of access to affordable" and safe health products, the wording "sends the wrong message to innovators who will be essential to the solutions the whole world needs."

The Trump administration has been highly critical of the WHO, accusing it of being a "puppet of China". In April, it suspended funding to the organization, something Trump says could become permanent. On Monday, the White House threatened to pull out if the WHO didn't "commit to make substantive improvements within the next 30 days."

The EU bristled at the criticism on Tuesday. "It is not a time for finger pointing or undermining multilateral cooperation," Virginie Battu-Henriksson, a foreign affairs spokesperson for the bloc told reporters. 

"Global cooperation and solidarity through multilateral efforts are the only effective and viable option to win this battle."

Check out The Pandemic Playbook, CGTN Europe's major investigation into the lessons learned from COVID-19