by Robert Romano
“On my first day as President, I will rejoin the [World Health Organization] and restore our leadership on the world stage.”
That was former Vice President Joe Biden reacting on Twitter to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S from the World Health Organization (WHO), the group that uncritically repeated China’s false claims in mid-January that there was no human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Jan. 14, WHO infamously tweeted, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China.”
It would not be until Jan. 20 when China would finally confirm human-to-human transmission, more than a month after the outbreak began.
And only then would WHO chime in to confirm the same, stating on Twitter late that same night, “It is now very clear from the latest information that there is at least some human-to-human transmission of #nCoV2019. Infections among health care workers strengthen the evidence for this.”
On Jan. 24, China would lock down Wuhan and the surrounding region. A day later, on Jan. 25, the first doctor to treat the virus and who tried to warn the world about it died from it in China, raising international awareness.
The world soon found out that the virus is much worse than was realized and that the reason for that was because China was lying about it.
Within days, President Donald Trump would restrict travel from Wuhan on Jan. 31.
But while China was limiting internal travel, it was still ordering flights out of Wuhan and the rest of China, helping to spread the virus around the world. On Feb. 4, China’s Civil Aviation Administration stated, “In order to meet the needs of passengers in and out of the country and the international transport of supplies during this special period … airlines [are required to] … continue transport to nations that have not imposed travel restrictions.”
This move was backed up by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Feb. 3 told the WHO executive board “there is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent. WHO stands ready to provide advice to any country that is considering which measures to take.”
As late as Feb. 29, WHO was still criticizing the U.S. for imposing travel restrictions in a bid to slow down the virus: “WHO continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.”
Were China and WHO trying to help the virus spread everywhere? And why was Biden reading from Beijing and WHO’s script during this same period?
On Jan. 27, Biden wrote an oped in USA Today anticipating the upcoming travel ban and blasted President Trump’s calls in 2014 for travel restrictions during the Ebola outbreak as “reactionary”.
Biden wrote, “I remember how Trump sought to stoke fear and stigma during the 2014 Ebola epidemic. He called President Barack Obama a ‘dope’ and ‘incompetent’ and railed against the evidence-based response our administration put in place — which quelled the crisis and saved hundreds of thousands of lives — in favor of reactionary travel bans that would only have made things worse.”
On Feb. 1, after Trump shut down travel from China, Biden said in Iowa, “We have, right now, a crisis with the coronavirus… This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia — hysterical xenophobia — and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science… Diseases have no borders, they have no borders.”
On March 12, when Trump issued more travel restrictions on Europe Biden said in a speech, “Banning all travel from Europe or any other part of the world may slow it but as we’ve seen will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics, rather than risk, will be counterproductive.”
The same day, Biden tweeted, “A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it…”
Now the Biden campaign wants you to believe they supported travel bans all along. Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told CNN on April 3 that Biden “supports travel bans that are guided by medical experts, advocated by public health officials and backed by a full strategy,” adding, “Science supported this ban, therefore he did too.”
But if science supported the China travel ban in late January, then why were Biden, Beijing and WHO opposed to it? The fact is the only person running for President who would ever issue such travel restrictions when they matter and stand by them is President Trump. Biden cares more about maintaining relationships with foreign discredited organizations like WHO than keeping the American people safe.
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Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.