US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday attacked the World Health Organization and -- without naming it -- China for what he said was a lack of timely sharing of information about the origins and spread of the coronavirus.
In recorded remarks played at the United Nations General Assembly, Azar complained about “dereliction of duty” while praising the US for speeding coronavirus vaccines to market.
“The World Health Assembly directed WHO to undertake an investigation into the origins of the virus, but the results are not expected until next year -- an unacceptable timeframe,” Azar said.
“Even worse, international experts will be expected just to review the conclusions of one country’s experts -- far from the kind of collaborative spirit we need to get to the truth,” he added, using the non-diplomatic language that has characterized the Trump administration.
“The key issue is not where the virus first appeared -- it is whether information about the virus was shared in a timely and transparent way. Sadly, the necessary information sharing did not happen, and this dereliction of duty has been absolutely devastating for the entire globe.”
Azar did not mention that the US withdrew its support for WHO under President Donald Trump, or Trump’s constant barrage of blame, accusing China of spreading the virus.
“Sadly, some countries have also attempted to take advantage of the pandemic to pursue economic, diplomatic, or security gains with hard-hit countries. The United States has taken a different path. Our work on vaccines for Covid-19 has been fully transparent, and we will follow all the usual and stringent American safety and quality protocols to produce countermeasures that the whole world can trust. The United States will make these tools available to our partners and friends once we take care of the American people,” Azar said.
He did not say who he meant by “some countries.”
“The United States is providing to countries combating the virus more funding, equipment, and support than any other nation. This is what the United States does in times of crisis, because we have a positive vision and a commitment to strengthen our friends, not take advantage of their misfortunes,” Azar concluded.