U.S. assails WHO 'failure' in pandemic, saying it cost 'many lives'

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a news briefing on the administration's response to the coronavirus at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday that the pandemic had “spun out of control” in great part due to a costly “failure” by the World Health Organization, and called for a more effective WHO.

“There was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives,” U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told the WHO’s two-day annual assembly being held online.

Azar, without naming China said: “In an apparent attempt to conceal this outbreak, at least one member state made a mockery of their transparency obligations, with tremendous costs for the entire world.”

“We saw that WHO failed at its core mission of information sharing and transparency when member states do not act in good faith. This cannot ever happen again,” he added.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge