A bombshell new report claims that Chinese President Xi Jinping personally asked the World Health Organization to withhold releasing information about the human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus and to delay a pandemic warning.
As the Daily Mail noted, the report came from the German newspaper Der Spiegel, which cited information from German's Federal Intelligence Service. The report claimed that Xi spoke to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom by phone on January 21 and asked to "delay a global warning" about the novel coronavirus that had been spreading for weeks in China. As the Daily Mail noted, the WHO did not declare the outbreak a global pandemic until March 11, close to two months after the alleged phone call took place.
The German intelligence service estimated that the request and the delay in releasing information about the coronavirus led to between four and six weeks being lost that should have been spent fighting the spread of the virus.
The WHO has pushed back against the report, releasing a statement saying that the request never took place.
"Dr. Tedros and President Xi did not speak on January 21 and they have never spoken by phone. Such inaccurate reports distract and detract from WHO's and the world's efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement noted.
The WHO statement added that China had confirmed human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus by January 20, the day before the alleged phone call.Both China and the WHO have been criticized for what many see as a bungled response to the early spread of the coronavirus. U.S. President Donald Trump has been among the most vocal critics, but the New York Times noted that he is not alone in pointing a finger. The report noted that Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso had started referring to the WHO as the "Chinese Health Organization," as he believes the agency is too close with Beijing. Taiwan also says that its early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored because China does not acknowledge the self-governing island as its own country and has blocked it from becoming a member of the WHO.
The Der Spiegel report came days after another that allegedly blamed China for withholding information. Australia's Daily Telegraph reported on the 15-page research document that reportedly came from "Five Eyes" — intelligence agencies from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The report claimed that the Chinese government purposely suppressed information about the coronavirus, including "disappearing" doctors who sounded the alarm about early cases.