It is hard to know what to make of the World Health Organisation.

Is it Beijing’s stooge, acting to deflect criticism of China’s alleged role in spreading disease around the world, or is it simply a rather humdrum agency of the United Nations, run by bureaucrats who, when they’re not travelling the world first-class, live more or less tax-free in Geneva?

Or is the answer that it is a bit of both?

Until very recent times, there was general acceptance that the United States, long sceptical of the UN, could be relied on to keep agencies such as the WHO from going off the rails. Washington may have risked offending progressive opinion with its constant carping from the sidelines, but it remained the undisputed paymaster of international action.