WHO Fires Leader Of Covid-19 Search Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The World Health Organization (WHO) fired the scientist who led its COVID-19 origins investigation in China due to sexual misconduct allegations, it announced Wednesday.

Peter Ben Embarek, who led the WHO’s delegation to China two years ago to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, was dismissed from the organization last year following findings of sexual misconduct he committed, spokeswoman Marcia Poole told the Associated Press in an email Thursday. Ben Embarek’s dismissal was not made public until the Financial Times first reported on it Wednesday.

“The findings concern allegations relating to 2015 and 2017 that were first received by the WHO investigations team in 2018,” Poole said of the two allegations made against Ben Embarek. She added that the allegations could not be fully investigated because the victims were not fully cooperative.

Ben Embarek led a team that gathered evidence alongside Chinese observers from China on the origins of COVID-19 and reported that the most likely cause of the pandemic was a natural spillover from animals to humans. Critics said conflicts of interest held by some members of the team compromised the investigation, along with the fact taht Chinese officials withheld certain information from the WHO. (RELATED: World Health Organization Bails On COVID Origins Investigation)

The WHO has been mired in various sexual misconduct scandals recently, as the organization claims to be trying to root out miscreants. Last month, the WHO fired Dr. Temo Waqanivalu over a sexual assault allegation, and earlier this year a top scientist was placed on leave for creating a “misogynistic pissing circle.”