In the strongest and most direct rebuttal yet to United States’ allegations of misconduct by the World Health Organization, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphatically told reporters on Thursday that claims he was ‘bought off’ by China are “untrue, without any foundation, and unacceptable.”
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Dr Tedros called the allegations a “distraction,” saying politics should be “quarantined” to mount an effective pandemic response.
Tedros was responding to news reports that US State Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China ‘bought-off’ Dr Tedros, helping him secure the 2017 election as WHO’s director-general.
The alleged deal led to WHO missteps in handling the pandemic, contributing to “dead Britons,” Pompeo was quoted as saying in The Telegraph, on Tuesday. The US Secretary of State reportedly made his remarks in closed door meeting with British Members of Parliament while on a visit to London.
“Our sole focus is on saving lives. WHO will not be distracted by these comments, and we don’t want the entire international community to also be distracted,” Dr Tedros emphasized. “One of the greatest threats we face continues to be the politicization of the pandemic. COVID-19 does not respect borders, ideologies, or political parties.
“I have said it many times – COVID politics should be quarantined. Politics and partisanship have made things worse.”
Other leading members of Dr Tedros COVID-19 team echoed his statements, including Emergencies head Mike Ryan and Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead, and an American citizen.
“I feel the need to say something as an American and as a proud WHO employee,” said Kherhove. “…I see firsthand every day the work that Dr Tedros, Mike and our teams do all over the world. We are firmly focused on saving lives. We will not be distracted.”