DETECTOR RUMORS / According to a rumor which was spread in several languages, the world health Organization (WHO) would have prohibited autopsies on patients dead of the COVID-19, in order to prevent the truth from seeing the light of day. Beyond the fact that the falsity of this assertion can easily be demonstrated, it is based on ignorance of the real powers of the WHO, notes the Detector of rumors.
The origin of the rumor
The starting point is an assertion according to which the Italian doctors allegedly discovered that this is not a virus, but a bacterium that would cause the deaths associated with the COVID. They would have made this “discovery” by disobeying ” the law global health of the world health Organization (WHO) not to perform autopsies on the dead of the coronavirus “. Since the end of the month of may, various versions of this “theory” have been shared in several languages, such as French, English and even tagalog, a philippine dialect.
It is actually the opposite : the WHO guidelines clearly say that it is quite possible to doing post-mortems on a body with suspected or confirmed infected by the COVID-19, provided they meet certain safety measures to avoid any risk of contaminating the personnel who practice these autopsies. For example, it is necessary to perform these procedures ” in a room properly ventilated, that is to say containing at least one natural ventilation […], or, in the case of rooms with mechanical ventilation, under negative pressure “. The WHO member States, such as Canada, base their own guidelines on these recommendations.
Similar recommendations are in the overall mission of the who, in emergency situations, such as a pandemic, among other things, the role of establishing standards in order to harmonize the response of the international community. In the case of the Covid-19, WHO instructed, moreover, by the end of January the country to “implement a comprehensive approach to public health” to prevent infections.
Recommend, but not order
However, WHO can not compel its members to follow its guidelines, and this is why, even if she had recommended not to perform autopsies (it never did), she would have no power to compel anyone. Unlike other organizations of the UN such as the world trade Organization, which has a mechanism of commercial dispute resolution, the WHO has no power of incentive or coercive, and more focused on an approach of voluntarism. This explains that, for example, a country like Sweden has been able to manage the crisis in its own way, without imposing the containment is also strict than elsewhere.
This lack of empowerment contributes to criticism. For example, it was faulted for its management of the crisis of H1N1 2009, including with respect to the transparency of its decision-making processes. It has been the same for his response deemed late in the face of the Ebola outbreak in 2014. The reforms subsequent concerning health emergencies, this has not prevented to be contested this year, this time for its alleged complacency towards China.
The United States, to the origin of this accusation, have threatened to end their relationship with the WHO. They have suspended their monetary contribution of 553 million dollars for the fiscal year 2020-2021. This contribution represents more than 20 % of the total annual budget of the who, which is currently about $ 2.4 billion. In comparison, noted by several observers during the american withdrawal, that is much less than in some university hospitals as one of Cleveland, Ohio, whose budget amounted to $ 3.9 billion in 2017.
In fact, WHO suffers from a chronic under-funding for a long time. The withdrawal of the United States could make it even more dependent on funds from philanthropic organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has paid 341 million in 2020-2021… at the risk of feeding other conspiracy theories.
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This article has been written in the framework of the joint project of the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec/Agence Science-Presse Covid-19 : identify the désinfo, which is funded by Heritage Canada.