One of President Donald Trump’s talking points in defense of his response to the coronavirus pandemic is that no one could have seen such a crisis coming. But in fact, many within his administration, including from top economic adviser Peter Navarro and intelligence officials, were sounding the alarm and warning that a major storm was brewing. Former Vice President Joe Biden addressed the deadly potential of COVID-19 in a foreboding Jan. 27 op-ed for USA today.
And some of the other warnings, according to a new Washington Post report, came from the entity he has recently chosen to demonize: the World Health Organization.
The Post, in an article published on Sunday, explains, “More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump Administration, according to U.S. and international officials.”
Recently, Trump has been bashing WHO, claiming that the organization failed to address the COVID-19 threat in January and February because it wanted to protect the government in China. But DeYoung, Sun and Rauhala report, “The presence of so many U.S. officials undercuts President Trump’s assertion that the WHO’s failure to communicate the extent of the threat, born of a desire to protect China, is largely responsible for the rapid spread of the virus in the United States.”
The Post journalists report that Caitlin B. Oakley, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services “confirmed that in January, HHS had 17 staff members, including 16 from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] at the WHO, ‘working on a variety of programs, including COVID-19 and Ebola.’ She emphasized that the staff members were not ‘decision-makers.’”
But the fact that those WHO officials were studying coronavirus in January doesn’t let the dictatorship in China off the hook. Oakley told the Post that a “lack of transparency” on the part of the Chinese government “hampered understanding of the virus and delayed the global response.”