Coronavirus: Global push for inquiry into Covid-19 response

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Global health leaders are set to call for a review into the international response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Envoys from 194 of the World Health Organization’s member states will meet virtually on Monday and Tuesday for the 73rd assembly of the UN body.

The coronavirus pandemic will take centre stage.

Questions will be raised over how the WHO and its members handled the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 300,000 people worldwide.

More than 4.5 million people have been infected since it emerged in China in December. The meeting comes amid recriminations between China and the US over the virus.

Each year, countries come together at the World Health Assembly to review the work of the UN’s health agency, and set its priorities for the coming year.

The European Union is expected to lead an international call, alongside countries including the UK, Australia and New Zealand, for an inquiry into how the global pandemic has been handled and what lessons can be learned.

EU spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson said several key questions needed to be answered as part of any review.

“How did this pandemic spread? What is the epidemiology behind it? All this is absolutely crucial for us going forward to avoid another pandemic of this kind.”

But, she said, now was not the time to enter “any sort of blame game”.

The World Health Organization is likely to come under a lot of pressure over its handling of the pandemic.

WHO spokeswoman Dr Margaret Harris said: “The World Health Assembly is always the time for a lot of scrutiny [of the WHO].”

But, she added, the organisation would remain “laser focused” on working to lead the overall response, and the science and the solutions for this pandemic.