World Health Organization official Dr. Michael Ryan defended the Chinese government against allegations that it has manipulated its coronavirus data, saying at a press conference this week that observers have become “over-focused” on the issue.
The Chinese foreign ministry’s chief spokeswoman amplified Ryan’s remarks on Thursday, saying he had “refuted” allegations that Beijing has manipulated coronavirus data.
“I think we need to be very careful also to not to be profiling certain parts of the world as being uncooperative or non-transparent, and we need to look at transparency across the board,” Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said at a press conference in Geneva.
A reporter had asked officials about Beijing’s new policy to include asymptomatic coronavirus patients in the government’s overall coronavirus infection tally. The reporter also asked whether WHO has been “manipulated or taken for a ride” by accepting China’s data.
Ryan rejected the premise of the reporter’s question, suggesting that governments around the globe are struggling to report accurate data because of the chaos caused by the pandemic.
“We need to be balanced in that and we need to recognize that systems under pressure find it hard to share everything on a minute-to-minute basis,” Ryan said.
“Frankly, at times I think we get over-focused on this issue.”
He pointed to a “lack of precise information from Italy” — which has been hit hard by the virus — but said that the medical system there has been overwhelmed with an influx of patients.
“Are we saying they’re lacking in transparency and not sending WHO all the data every day?” Ryan asked rhetorically of Italy. “No.”
WHO has come under intense scrutiny over its deference to the Chinese government. U.S. intelligence officials reportedlyconcluded that the communist regime has concealed the extent of the pandemic inside the country.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott on Tuesday called for a congressional investigation into WHO’s role in “promoting misinformation” to help the Chinese government “cover up a global pandemic.”