Tedros reelected as WHO chief, urged to resist West pressure, probe US bio labs in second term
Published: May 24, 2022 11:45 PM
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivering remarks following the speech of US President's chief medical adviser during a World Health Organization (WHO) executive board meeting on January 21, 2021 in Geneva. Photo: VCG

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Photo: VCG

As a sole candidate for a procedural leadership vote on Tuesday at the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was reelected as the World Health Organization (WHO) chief, with Chinese experts calling on WHO to resist political pressure from some Western countries in Tedros' new term.

Addressing the 75th WHA in Geneva, Switzerland, Tedros said on Monday the COVID-19 pandemic had demonstrated why the world needs the WHO and reiterated that the COVID-19 pandemic "is far from over."

"And even as we continue to fight it, we face the task of restoring essential health services, with 90 percent of member states reporting disruptions to one or more essential health services," Tedros said.

Tedros highly praised China's rapid response and communication with the WHO at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, when most countries in the world were "lying flat," he said that China's zero-COVID strategy was "unsustainable," causing Chinese people's discontent. 

In response to Tedros' remarks, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a press briefing on May 11 that "we hope relevant people can view China's anti-COVID policies in a rational and objective way, learn more facts and avoid making irresponsible remarks."

We hope Tedros will make decisions based on science and he can resist political pressure from some Western countries in the future, Zeng Guang, former chief epidemiologist of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Zeng also called for WHO to investigate biological laboratories established by the US that threaten the health of people around the world.

Still, Chinese experts appraised WHO's efforts to advance anti-pandemic cooperation. 

WHO has played an important role in the control of infectious diseases and other health issues around the world, such as efforts to push forward the eradication of smallpox, polio and tuberculosis, as well as promoting HPV vaccination worldwide, said a Beijing-based immunologist who required anonymity on Tuesday.

WHO also provides guidance for disease control and prevention operations around the world, such as annual influenza forecasting and providing vaccine strain samples, according to the expert.

The international society has been calling for more international cooperation to prevent disease spread including COVID-19 and the recent reported monkeypox. Monkeypox is transmitted during close contact between individuals through infected skin lesions or body fluids, or through contact with contaminated materials, according to a WHO statement released on May 20.

Many people have concerns over whether monkeypox is likely to become an epidemic. WHO said in another statement that further public health investigations are ongoing in non-endemic countries that have identified cases, and genomic sequencing and vaccination for monkeypox have been deployed.