ROME (AP) – The head of Italy’s National Institutes of Health on Friday dismissed a scandal over a World Health Organization report on Indonesia’s coronavirus response, saying he had no means of intervening with the UN agency and had never censored even inappropriate public information.
Dr Silvio Brusafero has been embroiled in a scandal after a leaked document from the Bergamo prosecutor’s office last week uncovered transcripts of WhatsApp conversations between Brusafero, a WTO official named Ranieri Guerra, who is on trial accused of on the report. ,
The introduction, which was published in May last year as a guide to help countries prepare for COVID-19, was irritating as it turned out that the Italian government had not updated its epidemic preparedness plan since 2006. The report was removed from the WHO website. The day after its publication, no more was posted, which sparked speculation by the WTO, sparing the Italian government shame and possible responsibility.
The WHO says it contains inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and was published prematurely before being verified. Its chief researcher, Dr. Francesco Z.’s chair, says the report has received all the necessary permissions, believing that it was removed due to political pressure and Guerra’s personal interests.
Guerra was in charge of prevention at the Italian Ministry of Health during the years when the epidemic plan had to be updated to comply with WHO and EU guidelines. Guerra said the program did not need to be updated during those years, but denied that it had attempted to censor the WHO report, saying it simply wanted it to be revised.
According to written reports, Guerra told Bruceferro in colorful language that he had received the report from the WHO website and was trying to make sure that it had also disappeared from other websites.
“I was cruel to the idiots of the Venice Document,” Guerra wrote, referring to the chair of the amb chair in Venice. “I hope I make him roll a few incorrigible heads.”
At a news conference on Friday, Brucefero said he had only admitted to receiving messages from Guerra, not judging what he had been sent.
Brucefero added that no one at the Higher Institute of Health had seen the WHO report before it was published, and that it was not as concerned about its contents as it was about its publication. He said the institute did not have the mandate or capacity to intervene in the UN report, but denied that it had tried to cover it up.
“The horse with which my colleague (Guerra) expressed himself is a horse that is only his,” said Brucefero, referring to Guerra’s messages. “For my part, I think I never – not only on this occasion, but I think it’s not part of my character or communication” – used shades that are anything but polite, heartfelt – pleasing.