EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans on Wednesday wrote to the head of the World Health Organization, renewing their calls for him to testify before Congress over its response to the coronavirus crisis, and accused him of endorsing Chinese propaganda efforts.
“Until you appear under oath, America and the world will not know the origins of this crisis,” said the letter from Republicans on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Republicans initially wrote to Tedros on April 9 about the response to the virus, which originated in China and quickly swept through the globe, turning into a global pandemic. But in his response to the committee on June 15, he repeated a claim published on the WHO’s website that the first cases were reported by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission to the WHO.
But the WHO has since updated the timeline to state that officials first learned about the virus from information on a U.S. website by doctors working in Wuhan. That was first reported by The Washington Free Beacon.
“This revelation confirms that China failed to notify the WHO of the outbreak, in violation of the International Health Regulations (IHR) and must be held accountable. By refusing to disclose the truth, you have shielded China from accountability,” the letter says.
“Your public statements regarding the initial outbreak coupled with the WHO website and your June 15 letter to this Committee demonstrate an endorsement of the CCP propaganda efforts to cover up the origins of this virus and mislead the world,” it continued.
The letter comes a day after the White House formally notified Congress and the U.N. of its intention to leave the organization, effective July 2021. Trump had announced that the U.S. would terminate its relationship with the WHO over its pro-China bias and its handling of the virus.
“Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities,” he said. “Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted across the globe.”
Trump and others had pointed to concerns about WHO officials’ praise of Chinese “transparency,” its ignoring of warnings about the virus from Taiwan, and its repetition of Chinese claims that COVID-19 could not be spread from person-to-person. Trump has also pointed to opposition from WHO officials to his decision to place a travel ban on China in the initial days of the crisis.
Republicans have made repeated calls to hold WHO officials accountable, but those calls have so far been ignored by House Democrats who control the various committees.
The letter sent Wednesday calls for all documents and communications related to the pandemic between the WHO and Chinese authorities and between WHO and Taiwan. It requests a response by July 15.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.