Florida Sen. Rick Scott on Tuesday called for a congressional investigation into whether the World Health Organization pushed Chinese government misinformation to help the communist regime “cover up” the extent of the coronavirus pandemic.
Scott, a Republican, also called for congressional hearings to consider whether the United States should continue funding WHO. The United States contributes nearly 15% of WHO’s annual budget, far greater than any other nation.
“They need to be held accountable for their role in promoting misinformation and helping Communist China cover up a global pandemic,” Scott said in a statement.
He added: “We know Communist China is lying about how many cases and deaths they have, what they knew and when they knew it — and the WHO never bothered to investigate further.”
“Their inaction cost lives.”
WHO officials have praised Beijing, despite mounting evidence that the government has downplayed the spread of the epidemic, which began with an outbreak in Wuhan, China in November 2019.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who won his election to the post with the backing of China, praised the government’s “openness to sharing information” about the pandemic following a trip to Beijing on Jan. 28.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, an assistance director-general of WHO, has praised China’s “agile and aggressive” response to the virus.
Scott cited a Daily Caller News Foundation report that the Chinese government has amplified Aylward’s pro-China remarks through its various propaganda outlets.
“If I had COVID-19, I’d want to be treated in China,” Aylward said at a WHO press conference on Feb. 27 after returning from China on a fact-finding mission to assess the pandemic there. CGTN, one of the government’s leading mouthpieces, touted Aylward’s praiseful remarks.
Scott also pointed to an interview that Aylward gave Friday in which he repeatedly dodged questions about Taiwan’s handling of coronavirus. WHO, like many other international bodies, does not recognize Taiwan’s independence from China.
Aylward pretended not to hear questions about Taiwan, and cut off the interview when pressed about Taiwan.
WHO also accepted China’s assessment early in the outbreak that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission of coronavirus.
WHO’s statement created a false sense of security about the threat posed by the virus, which is now known to be transmitted easily from person to person.
Scott said when Congress goes back in session, lawmakers should hold hearings and conduct an investigation into whether the United States should continue contributing to WHO.