Тайвань говорит, что пытался предупредить мир о коронавирусе. Вот что он действительно знал и когда


When they heard about patients falling ill with a mysterious pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Dec. 31, Taiwan’s health officials fired off an email to the World Effectively being Group soliciting for more recordsdata.

This four-sentence inquiry has since became fodder for the political brawl betweenChina and the U.S.and threatens to bruise the recognition of the U.N.’s health agency as it leads the fight against an unparalleledglobal pandemic.

Taiwanese and U.S. officials own seized on the electronic mail to argue theWHO no longer smartly-known an early warningthat the coronavirus may perchance perhaps presumably also seemingly be transmitted between of us. Within the weeks following the Dec. 31 point out, the WHO echoed Chinese officials that there used to be “no clear proof of human-to-human transmission”— even ascircumstances begancropping upthatraised suspicionofcontagion.

In an interview with TIME, Dr. Lo Yi-chun, the deputy director-frequent of Taiwan’s Services and products for Disease Bewitch watch over (CDC), says the WHO ought to quiet own acted on Taiwan’s ask by conducting its own investigation. As a change, he says the WHO “equipped a spurious sense of security to the arena.”

The WHO has defended its coping with of the outbreak and says it relies on member countries cherish China to precisely file their findings. It also notes that Taiwan’s email didn’t explicitly mention human-to-human transmission, and that the self-governing island used to be no longer the first nor essentially the most interesting one to contact the group regarding the illness.

Yet the scrutiny has intensified. President Donald Trump — going by criticism over his own authorities’s response — hascited Taiwan’s emailas proof of the WHO allegedly serving to Chinacoverup the severityof the outbreak, andsuspended U.S. contributionsto the health agency in April. Both Beijing and the WHO insist any concealment.

On Tuesday, Trump threatened to own thefunding freeze everlastingin a letter sent to the WHO leader as countries gathered nearly for the WHO’s annual dedication-making meeting. Referencing “repeated missteps” in the WHO’s steering of the pandemic response — at the side of picking “no longer to fragment” Taiwan’s dialog — Trump acknowledged he may perchance perhaps presumably also no longer commit American taxpayers’ greenbacks to the agency until it undertakes “most fundamental substantive improvements in the following 30 days.”

With Taiwan in the spotlight, TIME spoke with health officials, politicians and analysts to unpack what the island of 23 million knew in the acute early days of the pandemic when it initiated afleet responsethat helped it defend its an infection price among the many lowest on this planet.

The email

At 6: 30 a.m. on Dec. 31, Dr. L. a. Taiwan’s CDC woke to an alert on his telephone.

His colleagues in the media monitoring unit had detected social media posts about apneumonia of unknown trigger in Wuhan. The long-established posts in China had been hasty removed, nevertheless screenshots had been reposted on PTT, a most novel online discussion board in Taiwan. Some commenters feared a resurgence of theSevere Acute Respiratory Syndrome(SARS), which had killed 774 of us in 2002 and 2003, mostly in Asia.

Lo, an infectious illness knowledgeable, checked out the photos of laboratory experiences and docs’ messages and suspected something else, something new. “But whether or no longer the availability used to be reliable or …indicated essentially the most interesting pathogen [couldn’t] be proved upright from learning that,” he says. So he urged his colleague to salvage entangled with counterparts in Beijing and the WHO by the World Effectively being Regulations mechanism, a WHO framework of trade between countries, to quiz for more recordsdata.

Spherical 1: 30 p.m. that afternoon, the Wuhan Municipal Effectively being Commissionannounced 27 circumstancesof pneumonia associated to a seafood market. It acknowledged their investigations found “no clear human-to-human transmission.” It can presumably also be one other three weeks forward of a mainChineseauthorities-appointed knowledgeable would verify on speak TV that the illness may perchance perhaps presumably also spread between of us, followed two days later by aWHO narratethat acknowledged recordsdata “suggests that human-to-human transmission is taking position in Wuhan.”

But Taiwan didn’t wait to step up precautions. On Dec. 31, the islandbegan instituting health screeningsfor all flights coming again from Wuhan. “We weren’t ready to salvage ample solutions both from the WHO or from the Chinese CDC, and we got worried and we began doing our preparation,” International Minister Joseph Wu tells TIME.

A topic of interpretation

It took time, nevertheless that email Lo urged his colleagues to send to the WHO at final kicked up a geopolitical storm. In March, Taiwan’s Vice President Chen Chien-jen, an epidemiologist-turned-baby-kisser, knowledgeable the FinancialInstancesthe WHOhad failed to relay the island’s early warningthat the illness may perchance perhaps presumably even be transmitted between of us. The U.S. Convey Departmenttook up the claimand acknowledged by no longer passing this fundamental recordsdata on to member states the WHO “selected politics over public health.”

Taiwan doesn’t own a seat at the WHO attributable to objections from Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the island. This exclusion,Taiwan says, is unhealthy for public health. The WHO, which is governed by its member states and so doesn’t own authority over membership, says it has been sharing recordsdata associated to the pandemic with Taiwan. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has homed in on the place of its ally as it attacks therelationship between the WHO and China.

With the row escalating, and after WHO chiefTedros Adhanom Ghebreyesusaccused Taiwan of backing a racist campaign against him, the island’s CDC publiclyreleased its Dec. 31 email.

Written in English, the text mentions experiences of “at the least seven atypical pneumonia circumstances” and notes that patients had been being “remoted for medicine.” Taiwan’s distant places ministry tells TIME in an emailed narrate that this precaution used to be the smoking gun, “strongly suggesting that there used to be a possibility of human-to-human transmission,” because it don’t were wanted if the illness used to be no longer infectious. Public health officials may perchance perhaps presumably even own discerned from this wording an implied warning about contagion, in step withstatementsfrom Taiwan’s distant places ministry and CDC.

Effectively being experts contacted by TIME had been divided, with some noting that “atypical pneumonia is idea to be communicable,” while others remark setting apart patients with a doubtlessly unique pathogen is a radiant precaution.

A man holds a Taiwan flag as passengers disembark from the Diamond Princess cruise ship attributable to fears of COVID-19 in Yokohama, Japan on Feb. 21, 2020.

Philip Fong—AFP/Getty Photography

For its segment, the WHO denies ignoring a warning from Taiwan. Spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic says the WHO got Taiwan’s email simplest after Wuhan’s announcement regarding the outbreak. The inquiry, he adds, made no mention of human-to-human transmission, nevertheless used to be on the opposite hand forwarded to experts collating recordsdata on the outbreak.

In conserving with Tedros, Taiwan used to be alsono longer the first to flagwhat used to be happening in Wuhan. “Many other countries had been already soliciting for clarification,” he acknowledged.

WHO spokesperson Paul Garwood tells TIME that on Dec. 31, “a health authority from a regional bloc of countries” and one other nation also flagged the outbreak and requested recordsdata, even though they didn’t warn about human-to-human transmission. Garwood says he may perchance perhaps presumably also no longer publicly point out who they had been because such communications are confidential.

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‘Photocopying machine’

As the fleshy extent of the outbreak came into focal level, a rising chorus of authorities officials,health experts,editorial boardsandlecturersbegan scrutinizing the WHO, and accused it of being too deferential to Beijing.

In Japan, deputy prime minister Taro Aso smartly-known in March that folks are relating to the group because the “Chinese Effectively being Group” attributable to what he described as its hyperlinks to Beijing. In Washington, seven Republican Senators are calling for an investigation into the WHO’s coping with of the crisis and whether or no longer China manipulated the group. Over 1 million of us signeda petitioncalling for Tedros to resign.

That the facts put out by the WHO “coincides precisely” with the Chinese authorities’s position “does elevate very extreme questions as as to whether or no longer the WHO has been exceptionally serious about accommodating the wishes of a particular member speak, namely China,” says Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London.

Main healthlecturers own urgedthat the WHO created a spurious sense of reassurance by persevering with tocommendBeijing’s “transparency,” whatever theexperiencesofthat which that you just can presumably place confidence in undercounting, and of Wuhan officials’ punishing docs who had warned regarding the virus. For the length of the SARS crisis, the WHO hadpublicly criticized Beijingfor looking to veil the outbreak.

A WHO spokesperson acknowledged the responsibility for reporting fair recordsdata rests on member states. “WHO expects all its member states to file recordsdata in a smartly timed and correct manner,” says Jasarevic. The agency targets to “defend begin lines of dialog” in the center of a crisis, he says. “Publicly calling out errors doesn’t aid.”

A member of the WHO’s own emergency committee, John Mackenzie,acknowledgedthat world action would were varied if no longer for Beijing’s “reprehensible” response to the coronavirus and underreporting of circumstances early on. Others laid the blame on the WHO, insisting it may perchance perhaps actually well also were less credulous of the facts coming out of China and sounded alarms about contagion earlier.

“It would own made a hell of a distinction,” says François Godement, senior adviser for Asia at the Institut Montaigne, a nonprofit community in Paris. “In many countries there used to be complacency regarding the contagiousness of the virus,” he says, at the side of that in France, clinical authorities maintained for weeks that there used to be no proven menace of human-to-human spread in segment because the WHO had reiterated China’s claims that there wasn’t.

Even Taiwan, which is continuously wary of recordsdata equipped by Beijing, used to be quiet “fifty p.c trusting,” says L. a. Taiwan’s CDC. “Because of it used to be released no longer simplest by China, nevertheless also adopted by WHO, we believed there have to were some verification that used to be carried out.” As a change, he says, the WHO used to be performing as China’s “photocopying machine.”

Requested regarding the allegation, WHO spokesperson Jasarevic says, “We employ and analyze recordsdata equipped by countries.”

Godement says that China’s affect has grown across the total U.N. machine attributable to the second-supreme economy’s rising an indispensable contributions, its unbiased on budgetary committees and since U.N. institutions own “mountainous expectations that China will make contributions more.”

Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary-Basic, says, “The United Nations is made up of sovereign member states. For the U.N. to unbiased, it’s fundamental all member states participate actively in its work.”

The WHO has continuouslyreplied to criticismthat it is too deferential to China and too late to flag the opportunity of the virus’ contagion. “With any new virus, especially a respiratory pathogen, the first and most evident ask we quiz is whether or no longer human-to-human transmission is occurring. That’s epidemiology 101,” says Gabriella Stern, the WHO’s director of communications.

Stern pointed to steering issued by the WHO on Jan. 10 and 11, which indicatedmore recordsdata used to be wishedregarding the virus’ mode of transmission and equippedintervening time steeringin step with recordsdata of alternative coronaviruses, at the side of SARS and MERS.

On Jan. 14, a WHO epidemiologistwarned regarding the possibilityof “restricted” human-to-human transmission as circumstances popped up without a connection to the seafood market the place the virus used to be idea to own originated. But later the identical day, the groupperceived to dash into reverse, andacknowledged there used to be “no clear proof”of such transmission.

These acquainted with the inner workings of the WHO remark the health body has to weigh recordsdata from all manner of sources, at the side of authorities recordsdata, WHO field offices, academic institutions, NGOs and the media. “It’s customarily honest that WHO simply repeats recordsdata that the Chinese authorities, or any authorities, experiences to the group,” says Kelley Lee, a professor of global health governance at Simon Fraser University who co-established the WHO Taking part Center on Global Swap and Effectively being.

“In global epidemic intelligence surveillance, nothing is taken at face worth. On the identical time, it is honest that the nature and quality of recordsdata about outbreaks regarding varied countries quiet varies considerably for a fluctuate of causes,” she says, at the side of hesitancy of governments to fragment recordsdata and recordsdata no longer yet known.

The time out that modified all the pieces

For Taiwan, precedent fueled its skepticism. The island suffered badly all over theSARS outbreakthat Chinese authorities had initially tried to coverup. So when one other unknown pneumonia emerged, health officials jumped into action.

No longer as a lot as 100 miles from mainland China, Taiwan used to be used to be expected to own no doubt among thehighest virus caseloads. Yet the island, which is regarding the scale of Maryland with the inhabitants of Australia, has recorded upright 440 circumstances and saved deaths in the single digits.

Two Taiwanese clinicians, along with experts from Hong Kong and Macau, had been on no doubt among the first reality-discovering teams to dash to Wuhan. The Jan. 13-15 time out coincided with a Communist Get collectively conclave, all over which Wuhan officials announcedno new circumstances day after day. This lack of reported infections and the closure of the seafood market the place the virus used to be idea to own emerged triggered many to reflect the outbreak would rapidly be over. But the company stumbled onto recordsdata that burst such optimism.

Dr Chuang Yin-ching, commander of Taiwan’s Communicable Disease Bewitch watch over Medical Community, and no doubt among the experts on the time out, tells TIME he suspected the officials had been “looking to veil something” because when continuously requested about transmissibility the reply used to be continually unclear.

By some means, he says an respectable admitted there had been two household clusters among the many confirmed circumstances, one inspiring a husband and his bodily disabled accomplice. “The chance of his accomplice [going] to the seafood market is zero so we can glorious a lot guarantee the husband transmitted it to his accomplice,” says Chuang. That recordsdata used to be a game-changer.

The day the experts returned, Wuhan put out an announcement acknowledging “restricted human-to-human transmission” used to be that which that you just can presumably place confidence in, nevertheless acknowledged no community outbreak had occurred.

The Taiwanese CDC, by activity of the authorities press division, acknowledged that it shared a “transient abstract” of the mission with “cherish-minded countries,” nevertheless declined to order which ones. When requested if the U.S. used to be knowledgeable, a Taiwanese spokesperson would no longer specify, announcing, “It would no longer be helpful to present such recordsdata” to TIME. A U.S. Convey Department respectable declined to observation on the facts of personal conversations.

A blessing in conceal

Soon after the actual fact-discovering workforce returned, Taiwan activated its Central Epidemic Expose Center to coordinate a virus response. That used to be three days forward ofWuhan used to be locked down. Apprehensive regarding the facts coming out of China, Taiwan remained hyper-vigilant, Lo says.

“That helped us to safeguard our of us from being tormented by the first wave of [the] epidemic … otherwise we would also modified into Italy, or we would also modified into South Korea all over that time,” he says.

Ironically, Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHO may perchance perhaps presumably also were a blessing in conceal, in step with Lo.

From 2009 until 2016 Taiwan used to be allowed to attend World Effectively being Assembly conferences as anobserverunder the title “Chinese Taipei.” But the place ended presently afterPresident Tsai Ing-wencame to place of work promoting more distant members of the family with China, and as Beijing took an more and more assertive stance on the arena stage.

A respectable-Taiwan protester holds a flag outdoors of the United Nations offices on the opening day of the World Effectively being Group’s annual meeting in Geneva on Would perchance also 22, 2017.

Fabrice Coffrini—AFP/Getty Photography

The WHO says it is persevering with to facilitate interactions between its experts and Taiwan whatever the island’s non-member place. These consist of having Taiwanese health experts take part in two WHO COVID-19 networks position up in January and retaining telephone briefings between the WHO and health authorities in Taipei.

Aloof, Lo says, by no longer having fleshy membership place Taiwan “saved pondering, smartly, we have to always own missed fundamental recordsdata. That indisputably gave us that urgency and dread that we ought to quiet be conserving ourselves considerably greater by browsing the total wanted social media … and no longer upright depend upon WHO’s goodwill or other countries’ goodwill to fragment recordsdata with us,” he adds.

Taiwan has been tirelessly looking to drum up world serve amid the worldwide pandemic, at the side of pressing its longstanding campaign to be allowed aid into the WHO. In March, Trump signed theTAIPEI Actrequiring Washington to advocate Taiwan’s inclusion in world our bodies cherish the WHO, a switch poised to additional destabilize U.S.-China members of the family.

The Trump Administration had also advocatedfor Taiwan’s inclusionas WHO member states convened this week for the first World Effectively being Assembly for the reason that coronavirus pandem IC. Великолепный форвард встречи начался в понедельник, Тайвань согласился владеть своей выставкой для участияобсудить позже, сославшись на необходимость проведения турнира на целевом уровне по борьбе со вспышкой. p>                  

«Мы тихо нуждаемся в ВОЗ», – говорит Ло. «И нам нужно, чтобы ВОЗ была сильнее». P>                                       





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