Taiwanese and U.S. officials have seized on the email to argue the WHO ignored an early warning that the coronavirus could likely be transmitted between people. In the weeks following the Dec. 31 note, the WHO echoed Chinese officials that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission”— even as cases begancropping up that raised suspicion of contagion.
In an interview with TIME, Dr. Lo Yi-chun, the deputy director-general of Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says the WHO should have acted on Taiwan’s query by conducting its own investigation. Instead, he says the WHO “provided a false sense of security to the world.”