Coronavirus: WHO was warned of fallout over removed Italy report

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Coronavirus: WHO was warned of fallout over removed Italy report
Coronavirus: WHO was warned of fallout over removed Italy report

An author of a withdrawn World Health Organisation report into Italy’s coronavirus response warned his bosses in May that people could die and the UN agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails seen by The Associated Press.

The comprehensive report examined how the Italian government and health system reacted after the country became the epicentre of the European outbreak in late February – with real-time data and case studies of what worked and what didn’t aimed at helping other countries prepare as the virus spread.

The agency took it down a day after it was posted on its website, prompting the official who coordinated the work to appeal directly to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on May 28 and warn that the report’s disappearance was undermining WHO’s credibility. He cautioned that any further attempts at censorship would compromise the agency’s independence and its relations with donor nations that funded the research.

Concerns over the missing report have grown in recent weeks, fueling criticism of WHO’s leadership of the global response to the pandemic that led the agency to agree to an independent probe of its performance.

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