WHO Scientist Who Spoke Out Against Controversial Italy Report Resigns
WHO’s Franceso Zambon has resigned after he spoke out against the Organization’s censorship of a crucial report on Italy’s botched COVID-19 response

The WHO scientist who spoke out against the suppression of a damning report exposing key flaws in Italy’s COVID-19 response has resigned, Health Policy Watch has learned.

Franscesco Zambon, a senior figure at WHO’s Venice Office who led the preparation of the controversial report, told Health Policy Watch that he resigned over the WHO’s censorship of an “independent” report that was intended to “critically examine” both the strengths and weaknesses of Italy’s COVID-19 pandemic response. That report, said critics, contained valuable evidence that could have helped other countries in their COVID-19 response when it first hit.

But the report was removed on 14 May, just a day after it was published online on the WHO European Regional Office website – at the request of Ranieri Guerra, WHO’s assistant director-general for strategic initiatives, and former chief of preventive health at the Italian Ministry of Health from  2014 to 2017.

Strikingly, the report revealed that Italy’s national pandemic preparedness plan had not been updated for 14 years – a task that Guerra was meant to have undertaken while he was working with the Ministry between 2014 and 2017. The report also said that Italy’s initial response to the pandemic was “improvised, chaotic and creative” – which is likely to have contributed to a devastating death toll in the country in the early days of the pandemic.

The WHO’s suppression of the report adds to a growing body of evidence that has compromised the international organisation’s credibility, neutrality and transparency at a time when it is most needed, critics have said.

Read more about the report in our three-part series here.

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