Chalkmarks: WHO
  • Government is no longer the most trusted institution in society.
  • Businesses are the most widely trusted organisations for the first time, seen as deeply competent and also increasingly ethnical. 
  • The pandemic has added to societal fears including job losses, climate change and cyber hacks.
  • Vaccination fears are most problematic in the UK, Spain, the US and France.

THE World Health Organisation’s Special Envoy for COVID 19 today warned that many more would die unnecessarily because of fake news.

In an emotional speech, Dr David Nabarro said he was “hopping mad” and criticised President Donald Trump for undermining public trust in the organisation with a “Twitter spat” that began in May last year.

He said social media companies shared blame for allowing conspiracy theories to spread.

He said: “We must stop seeing the confusion of unverified information deliberately to mislead and confuse. It’s causing people to get sick and die.

“If you didn’t have companies putting around statements about masks not working, or social distancing not being necessary or the pandemic being a fake. If we didn’t have that sort of stuff our problems would be nothing like as bad.

“I’m hopping mad because there are so many people dying unnecessarily because people like ourselves have not taken our responsibilities seriously enough. We have a global crises on our hands, it needs everybody working together on it.”

The doctor was speaking as part of a panel of experts reacting to findings from analysts at Edelman that showed a massive decline in public trust in Government and NGOs. Their 2021 survey revealed that for the first time business was the most trusted institution is society. CEO Richard Edelman said this was because they were seen as “deeply competent but also increasingly ethnical.”

Chalkmarks: WHO
Credit: Edelman

Dr Nabarro said he hoped the WHO could “earn back the trust that we’ve lost because the world needs us right now.”

He said he understood that some people had listened to Trump, as their president, when he accused the WHO of favouring China. 

But he said: “We are ordinary doctors. We are committed to one principle in our work, which is everyone person in the world has equal value. Every nation has the right to access our services and whatever we can offer, we will offer to all.

“Based on my understanding, I don’t think there is any other body in the world that is so credible.

“Getting into Twitter spats with world leaders is not the coolest thing to do especially if they pay twenty per cent of your budget and your budget is already ludicrously tight for what you are supposed to be doing. But we’ll go on and I hope we can earn back the trust that we have lost because the world needs us right now.”

When asked when the pandemic would end, Dr Nabarro again responded passionately saying that giving a date added to mistrust and called on social media companies to help stop spreading confusion.

He said: “There is no good news. This pandemic is set to continue. The virus will go on mutating. Variants that are more transmissible will continue to appear. They will become more dominate. More and more will get ill. There are 90 million cases of Covid since it started. Two million approximately have died, probably 30 million have got long-term Covid. Hundreds of millions of people are poorer.

“It might come down to a reasonable level in 2022 or 2023 but the numbers of poor people who are going to suffer and die are just huge because the rich countries and the rich leaders have not taken their responsibilities seriously as world leaders.

“The world needs a concerted response. All CEOs of all vaccine companies, all G7 and G20 leaders need to get together in the beginning of February and say ‘we’re going to work together to stop this’. If they don’t, if we don’t get the social media media companies on side, our problems will get much, much worse.”

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