Under questioning from Hagerty, Dr. Vivek Murthy says WHO should be held accountable; vows to protect American sovereignty in any future international pandemic response agreement
WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today in a hearing pressed Dr. Vivek Murthy, nominee to be U.S. Representative on the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO), on the WHO’s cover-up of the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in a Chinese lab.
“[The WHO was] very quick to dismiss the possibility that this leak came from the Wuhan lab. Specifically, in February of 2021, more than a year after COVID emerged, a WHO investigation team finally gets there, and then they almost immediately determined that it was ‘extremely unlikely’ that COVID came from the Wuhan Lab, and they recommended against further investigation. Yet, according to the news reports, the Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence just recently joined the FBI in assessing that COVID likely originated from a lab leak in China,” Hagerty said. “Moreover, just yesterday, FBI Director [Christopher] Wray publicly reiterated that COVID most likely came from [the] Wuhan Lab.”
When asked by Hagerty if he believed that the WHO should be held accountable for initially covering up the possibility that COVID came from a Chinese lab leak, Dr. Murthy conceded: “Yes, I do believe accountability is important with the WHO as well when it comes to COVID origins,” adding, “The lab leak theory is one of those possibilities [of COVID-19 origins], and I don’t think it’s proper to discount a theory until it has been properly investigated.”
Hagerty also sounded the alarm on a new draft agreement that the Biden Administration is negotiating on global pandemic response that could give the WHO greater control over America’s policy response to a future pandemic—and thus over American sovereignty. Outside experts have cautioned that the draft agreement could increase the WHO’s unilateral authority to declare a pandemic and even obligate countries to shift sovereign budgets and waive rights to intellectual property. For example, the Heritage Foundation recently warned: “If the U.S. joined the treaty, it would be required to increase its domestic funding by ‘allocating in its annual budgets not lower than 5 percent of its current health expenditure to pandemic prevention,’ resulting in the annual expenditure of tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars on treaty compliance.”
Hagerty pressed Dr. Murthy to commit not to participate in any effort to enter into an international agreement that would give the WHO greater control over future American pandemic responses if confirmed.
“I can assure you that one of my guiding principles will be maintaining American sovereignty in our decision making,” Dr. Murthy responded. “We’ve got to have and retain always the ability to make decisions for America. I will always seek to retain our sovereignty when it comes to our health decisions.” He added, “I will strive to retain our sovereignty. That’s important. I don’t want to cede that to anyone.”
Hagerty promised to hold Dr. Murthy to his vow if he is confirmed.