Home / Markets News & Opinions / WHO Finally Admits Coronavirus Is a Global Pandemic

WHO Finally Admits Coronavirus Is a Global Pandemic

Last Updated April 17, 2023 6:40 AM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated April 17, 2023 6:40 AM

The WHO finally caved to pressure to label the coronavirus outbreak that causes COVID-19 a pandemic. Why did it take them so long?

a man in a suit and tie holding his hands to his face

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the coronavirus outbreak is a global pandemic.
  • The WHO had faced substantial backlash for its refusal to use the label earlier.
  • Critics have raised serious questions about the WHO’s relationship with China’s communist regime.

After weeks of equivocating about the gravity of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) finally declared COVID-19 a global pandemic  on Wednesday.

The event marked a symbolic turning point for the WHO, which had been outspoken about the dangers of the virus but bizarrely reluctant to call it a pandemic.

WHO Rings ‘Alarm Bell’ On Coronavirus Pandemic

a map of the world showing corona cases

“We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during Wednesday’s press conference.

He continued: 

In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled.

In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.

The WHO faced mounting waves of backlash for its refusal to label COVID-19 a pandemic. The pressure only increased as the number of infections spiraled and the coronavirus spread to new countries.

Two weeks ago, Dr. Michael Ryan – emergency direct or WHO’s health emergencies program – actually admitted that coronavirus had reached pandemic proportions.

a man in a white suit and a man in a white suit

He claimed that formally designating it a pandemic would be “unhelpful,” suggesting that the term had become a political football.

If this was influenza, we would probably have called this a pandemic by now, but what we’ve seen with this virus is that [containment measures work] and to declare a pandemic it’s unhelpful to do that when you’re still trying to contain a disease.

More than 80,000 cases had been confirmed when Ryan made that stunning confession. Yet the WHO still held the line as the numbers continued to snowball.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Johns Hopkins data indicated  that there were at least 121,564 confirmed cases in 118 countries – including 1,050 in the U.S. – and 4,373 deaths. A little more than half of patients – 66,239 – had recovered.

Questions Swirl About Relationship Between WHO And Beijing

a man wearing a face mask standing in front of a sign
WHO officials heaped praise on Beijing for its “transparency” in responding to COVID-19. | Source: Liu Bin/Xinhua via AP

While WHO officials hesitated to label the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, they were less measured in their effusive praise for China’s Communist Party .

Instead of rebuking the government for silencing whistleblowers and covering up the full extent of the health crisis, they gushed about Beijing’s “transparency” and “extraordinary”  response to the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China.

“We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated,” Tedros infamously said in January.

“China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response,” he added elsewhere.

These seemingly inexplicable comments raised serious questions  about the supposedly-independent WHO’s relationship with Beijing. Was the WHO delivering state media-friendly soundbites to avoid antagonizing a wealthy regime  whose “transparency” about the severity of the health crisis was anything but assured?

Those rumors will – and should – persist.

But it’s clear that the pressure – and the “alarming levels of inaction” too great – for the WHO to equivocate any longer.

As Tedros explained:

We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

two men sitting at a table with papers in front of them

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.