Leaders to seek global coronavirus response

The annual World Health Assembly meets virtually to tackle the crisis

Global health leaders are set to call for an independent review into the international response to the Covid-19 pandemic at a meeting this week as representatives of the World Health Organisation's member states meet virtually for the 73rd annual World Health Assembly, news wires reported. Expectedly, the coronavirus pandemic will take centre stage, and questions will be raised over how the virus has infected more than 4.5 million, and killed more than 300,000.

The EU 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," she pointed out.

The WHO is likely to come under a lot of pressure over its handling of the pandemic at the meeting. 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.

Each year, countries come together at the assembly to review the work of the UN's health agency, and set its priorities for the coming year. The assembly is expected to hear calls to give the WHO more powers, which would allow inspectors to go into countries at the start of outbreaks, and carry out independent investigations.

Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said cited by the BBC: "The big challenge with outbreaks is that no country wants to have one. "Every country wants to deny it's there, and every country wants to play down deaths."

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