A special session of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the novel coronavirus on Friday seems to have ended inconclusively, but not before the US demanded complete transparency and timely sharing of public data, in a swipe at China.

Beijing on its part hit back saying the spread of covid-19, which surfaced in China last year, was a “global challenge” and required “cooperation,” and “mutual support” to be defeated, and not by “scapegoating” anyone.

The war of words comes amid the surge in global covid-19 cases, with over 1.6 million infections, and around 96,000 fatalities. The US is the most affected country with almost 466,000 infections and 17,000 deaths.

The session was called by the current president of the UNSC, the Dominican Republic, in response to requests by nine of the 10 non-permanent members of the UNSC, the powerful decision making body of the United Nations.

This was, in fact, the first discussion on the covid-19 pandemic, which has threatened world peace and security, since it surfaced in China in December. Last month, Russia and South Africa had backed China to stall Estonia’s attempt to initiate a discussion in the UNSC on covid-19. While Russia and South Africa pointed out that there was no direct link between the spread of novel coronavirus and threat to global peace and security, China, the president of the UNSC till 31 March, rejected the proposal saying that there was no consensus on discussing the matter.

Consensus among members is a key requirement to take up any proposal for discussion and, this in turn, has witnessed rising criticism against the UN for its lack of leadership on matters related to the pandemic. In her statement, US envoy to the UN, Kelly Craft, made a pointed reference to the need for transparency, seen as a dig at China, given the allegations against Beijing. Some countries say that Chinese authorities had hidden facts about when and how the SARS-Cov2 virus surfaced, and also put a lid on the extent of infections and deaths in the country before it spread globally.

“The United States reiterates today the need for complete transparency and the timely sharing of public health data and information within the international community. The most effective way to contain this pandemic is through accurate, science-based data collection and analysis of the origins, characteristics, and spread of the virus. We cannot stress enough how important these methods are,” Craft said.

Craft’s call for transparency only reiterated US President Donald Trump’s and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s earlier comments on the need for China to reveal more about the origin of the novel coronavirus, which causes covid-19. Both Trump and Pompeo had referred to the pathogen as the “Chinese Virus” or the “Wuhan virus” to underscore its origin in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

China’s envoy Zhang Jun, on his part, defended Beijing’s record on curbing the spread of infection, saying: “Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and with the utmost sense of responsibility for the Chinese people and people of the world, the Chinese government has adopted the most comprehensive, thorough and strict measures of prevention and control. Important results have been achieved at the current stage.”

“China has provided support of various forms to more than 100 countries, including all those on the agenda of the Security Council, providing medical supplies, sharing experience, sending expert teams and assisting with commercial procurement. China’s support will not stop so long as the pandemic is not over.”

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