Aylward is the renowned epidemiologist who led a team of WHO experts in China to study the COVID-19 epidemic in February.
He and the WHO have been criticized by some in Canada for his report on China’s ability to curb the spread of the viral disease, which has since become a global pandemic.
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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, in particular, has raised concerns about the accuracy of the WHO COVID-19 data and the influence of China on the international organization.
“This committee has been asked unanimously to study Canada’s response to COVID-19,” said Conservative health critic Matt Jeneroux about the mission of the Commons health committee.
“WHO played a key role in this response. The government relied on WHO data and implemented measures here in Canada based on WHO recommendations. “
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The committee invited Aylward to testify by videoconference from Geneva, Switzerland, twice in the past month.
He refused them and WHO offered to answer written questions.
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NDP health critic Don Davies said that while written answers would be helpful, the opportunity for members to ask questions would be much better.
“I would note for the record that Dr. Aylward did interviews … with the media,” said Davies on Thursday. “WHO has been willing to make Dr. Aylward available to answer questions from the media, so I see no reason in principle why it would not make Dr. Aylward available to this committee to answer similar questions. .
The committee voted unanimously on Thursday to issue a mandatory summons, but it can only be executed once it returns to Canadian soil.
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Aylward’s final report upon his return from China in late February included praise for China’s methods and effectiveness in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
He noted that while he was in China, there was a large decrease in new cases in the country, fever clinics saw fewer and fewer people coming for assessments and treatment beds were opening.
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“This drop in COVID-19 cases across China is real,” he noted in his report.
The accuracy of this data and China’s transparency on the real extent of the epidemic at the time have since been called into question in Canada and abroad.
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© 2020 The Canadian Press