Italy prosecutors: WHO exec lied about spiked virus report

Friday, April 9, 2021

ROME (AP) — Italian prosecutors have accused a top World Health Organization official of lying to them about a spiked WHO report into Italy’s coronavirus response, revealing private communications Friday that are likely to embarrass the U.N. health agency.

Prosecutors in Bergamo placed Dr. Ranieri Guerra, at the time a WHO assistant director general, under investigation for allegedly making false declarations to them when he voluntarily agreed to be questioned in November. Guerra was the WHO’s liaison with the Italian government after Italy became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe last year.

Guerra did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The Agi news agency quoted him as saying he was shocked and “deeply embittered” that prosecutors had placed him under investigation, that he expected WHO to respond to them and remained available for fur ther clarification.

“I have been and am in absolute good faith and I am amazed that the prosecutors have a different impression,” Agi quoted him as saying. Guerra added that he told prosecutors everything he knew at the time but did not have access to all information.

Prosecutors are investigating the huge COVID-19 death toll in Bergamo and whether Italy’s lack of preparedness going into the pandemic played a role. Their probe expanded to include the spiked WHO report into Italy’s virus response, which revealed that the Italian government hadn’t updated its pandemic preparedness plan since 2006.

WHO pulled the report from its website on May 14, a day after it went up, and never republished it. The document’s disappearance suggested that WHO removed it to spare the Italian government criticism, embarrassment and liability.