World Health Organisation head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the United States’ “immense” contribution to global health on Monday and urged a continuation of good ties despite President Donald Trump’s move to quit the UN body.
Trump said on Friday he would cut ties with the WHO, accusing it of becoming a puppet of China during the global coronavirus crisis.
The health body’s experts, along with a range of other scientists, also said on Monday there was no evidence to support an assertion by a high-profile Italian doctor that the coronavirus behind the Covid-19 pandemic has been losing potency.
Professor Alberto Zangrillo, head of intensive care at Italy’s San Raffaele Hospital in Lombardy, which bore the brunt of Italy’s outbreak, told state television on Sunday that the new coronavirus “clinically no longer exists”.
But WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, as well as several other experts on viruses and infectious diseases, said Zangrillo’s comments were not supported by scientific evidence.
There is no data to show the new coronavirus is changing significantly, either in its form of transmission or in the severity of the disease it causes, they said.
“In terms of transmissibility, that has not changed, in terms of severity, that has not changed,” Van Kerkhove told reporters.
It is not unusual for viruses to mutate and adapt as they spread, and the debate on Monday highlights how scientists are monitoring and tracking the new virus.
The Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 370,000 people and infected more than 6 million around the world.