Today I read that WHO experts are "preparing to meet in Geneva" and that they will "attempt to develop a vaccine". Really, what do they think the rest of the world has been doing in the mean time?
At the time of writing, early Feb 2020, the world is in the grip of a health and socio-economic crisis: Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV. Within a self-isolated family unit in China, I've had plenty of time to absorb news in the Far Eastern and Western media, the public outpouring and to think about what's been happening and the future consequences. But today, the WHO came back into my view and I realised for all their fancy offices, comfortable lifestyles and impressive multilingual skills - they really have under-contributed and under-achieved. When, by comparison, tiny groups around the world were already making huge progress or had large impact: DNA sequencing, viral research, antidote planning, donations of medical supplies, coordination of information, policy development, people flow arrangements, etc.
Some initial thoughts. This is not deep research. More a gut feel based on the observables.
My case for WHO's irrelevance and worrying obstructionism.
1. Who cares that the WHO declared? It took an absolute age for the WHO to declare a global emergency, when the world and his dog knew it already, days before, including pretty much every government. WHO made a big deal of their declaration, as though it really mattered to the world's public. It did not. Mainly we were curious why had they not already, what took them so long?
2. WHO - needed or not? Governments have been cooperating directly with each other and managing to do it perfectly well already. With the world's ability to share information digitally, with fast connectivity and the desired to do so - there is no need for a centralised "enabler" like the WHO. But could the WHO have become worse than irrelevant - could the WHO actually be the opposite of helpful and actually get in the way of necessary action and progress? i.e. WHO, the disabler.
3. WHO, an expensive quango? The WHO is a hugely expensive, primarily non-executive, middle management layer - duplicating the functions that exist in developed nations. The huge amounts of money they need to just run themselves, could and, I believe, should be restored to government's health budgets.
Well that's it, what do you think?