Warning against the “politicization” of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Thursday rejected comments, by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, alleging Tedros had been “bought” by China.
The Times of London reported Wednesday Pompeo met behind closed doors with members of British parliament during a visit to London earlier this week. The report said Pompeo told the lawmakers he had intelligence suggesting Tedros had been "bought" by China's government and that his election as WHO chief in 2017 had led to the death of British nationals.
Speaking at the WHO’s Thursday COVID briefing, Tedros said the comments were “untrue and unacceptable and without any foundation.” He said one of the greatest threats “we face is the politicization of the pandemic.” Tedros said the sole focus of the entire WHO organization was saving lives, and it will not be distracted by the comments. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.
WHO COVID-19 Technical Lead Maria Van Kerkhove also reacted to the comments, saying it was her honor and privilege to have worked with Tedros since the beginning of this pandemic. Van Kerkhove, an American, said she has worked for the WHO for more than 10 years and has never been prouder of the work it has done.
Pompeo, who was in Denmark earlier Thursday, was not asked about the comments when he spoke with reporters.
The Trump administration has repeatedly criticized the WHO for its alleged deference to Beijing during the early stage of the pandemic.
President Donald Trump has ordered the United States to withdraw next year from the agency it has supported financially and politically for decades.