The World Health Organization is being sued by three New York state residents who argue that the WHO’s inaction to stop the coronavirus pandemic amounted to a “cover-up.”
The suit, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said that the WHO, which has had its U.S. funding frozen by President Donald Trump over its alleged actions in helping China obscure the full picture of the virus’s impact in that nation in January, committed “gross negligence.”
The suit seeks to determine: “Whether because of the WHO’s negligence, mismanagement and lack of leadership as described herein, the world may have missed a critical window to halt the COVID-19 pandemic or mitigate its virulence in its early stages.”
“Between November 2019 — when the first case of this new virus was first detected until March 11, 2020, when the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, the Chinese government and the WHO intentionally mislead the international community, including the named Plaintiffs, about the coronavirus and its devastating medical and economic effects,” the lawsuit added.
The suit argued that the WHO preferred to pander to China and criticize the Trump administration rather than protect the rest of the world.
“When the U.S. took a critical step to stop the coronavirus at U.S. borders by issuing a travel ban as early as January 31,2020, the WHO admonished the Trump Administration that widespread travel bans and restrictions were not needed to stop the outbreak and could ‘have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit,'” the suit said.
“WHO officials also warned that interfering with transportation and trade could harm efforts to address the crisis and advised other countries not to follow the U.S. lead.”
The organization was “politicizing the crisis” when it should have been trying to stop the virus’ spread, the suit argued.
“When the WHO should have been focusing on global counter-pandemic efforts, it was instead politicizing the crisis and using the WHO platform to defend the Chinese government’s gross violation of human rights,” it said. “Although China has been dishonest about the coronavirus’s origin and prevalence, misinforming and misleading the World and member nations, the WHO publicly praised China’s ‘transparency’ in battling the spread of the disease.”
The WHO’s actions in relation to the Chinese government constitute a “cover-up,” according to the lawsuit.
“The WHO mishandled and mismanaged the response to the discovery of the coronavirus and upon information and belief, engaged in a cover-up of the COVID-19 pandemic in China generally, and within Hubei Province and the City of Wuhan, thereby causing and/or contributing to the subsequent spread of the coronavirus all over the world, including to the United States of America and the State of New York,” the suit said.
“As the sole and impartial entity charged with acquiring the greatest knowledge of COVID-19 circumstances in China, the WHO negligently failed to further enhance the systematic and real-time sharing of epidemiologic data, clinical results and experience to inform the global response by member nations, including the U.S.,” it added. “The WHO has recklessly and negligently managed this deadly pandemic and assisted China to play down the severity, prevalence and scope of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The suit was filed by Dr. Richard Kling, Steve Rotker and Gennaro Purchia — each of whom claim they were “injured and damaged by WHO’s negligent conduct.”
According to the New York Post, Kling and Rotker are from New Rochelle, a Westchester County city north of New York City which emerged as New York state’s first coronavirus hot spot before the focus shifted to New York City itself.
Purchia is from nearby Scarsdale, Reuters reported.
The suit is filed as a class action suit on behalf of all adults in Westchester County “who have suffered injury, damage and loss related to the outbreak of the COVID-19
It calls for “actual, special, and compensatory damages” to be awarded by a jury.
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