The World Health Organization responded furiously on Thursday after the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told British lawmakers without evidence that China “bought” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and brought the coronavirus now killing British citizens.
Pompeo, who was speaking at a private meeting in London on Tuesday, claimed there was firm intelligence to show that a deal had been struck to get Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus the job of WHO director-general.
Pompeo added that this had resulted in the deaths of U.K. citizens from coronavirus.
The WHO described Pompeo’s comments as “unfounded allegations” which first surfaced in British newspapers including the Telegraph on Tuesday.
“WHO is not aware of any such statement but we strongly reject any ‘ad hominem’ attacks and unfounded allegations,” an emailed statement from the WHO read.
“WHO urges countries to remain focused on tackling the pandemic that is causing tragic loss of life and suffering.”
At a press briefing on Thursday from Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and his colleagues described the comments as “untrue and unacceptable and without any foundation for that matter”, adding that they will not be distracted in the middle of a pandemic.
“Our sole focus and the focus of the entire organization is on saving lives,” Tedros added. “If there is one thing that really matters to us and which should matter to the entire international community, it’s saving lives, and WHO will not be distracted by these comments. And we don’t want the international community also to be distracted.”