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WHO's director-general to talk COVID-19 at Collision's virtual conference

The tech conference announces the most powerful man in the medical world as a speaker at next month's event.

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Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
2 min read
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The WHO's director-general is scheduled to speak at the virtual conference.

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, will speak about the COVID-19 pandemic and the significance of health-related technology during the Collision from Home conference next month, the event's organizers said Wednesday.

The announcement follows the director-general's pledge on Tuesday to keep leading the fight against the coronavirus pandemic after US President Donald Trump suspended funding to the WHO and threatened to quit altogether. 

Trump lashed out at the WHO this week, calling it a "puppet of China" and issuing an open letter to the body about its perceived failings in handling the crisis. In spite of the president's threats, the WHO's members passed a landmark resolution on Tuesday  about uniting countries to fight COVID-19.

Paddy Cosgrave, founder of the Toronto-based Collision and its European sister event Web Summit, said in a statement that he was "humbled" to welcome the director-general, who he described as "one of the most important people in the world right now." Health tech will be a major focus of this year's conference, which will run virtually for the first time from June 23 to 25 and has thus been renamed Collision at Home. The conference will also feature a number of other prominent medics including Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association.

"This global pandemic has created a warlike scenario where the health industry is in an arms race, except the arms are not weapons -- they are medical advancements that will save lives, such as tracking systems for contact tracing, and super fast testing," said Cosgrave. "I believe the tech advancements we'll make over the next year and into 2021 will be incredible, and change the way healthcare is run forever."

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