World Health Organization Director-General & Other WHO Leaders Will Address Aspen Security Forum

August 3, 2020

WHO experts will discuss global response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute

Washington, DC, August 3, 2020 – Senior WHO leaders, including the organization’s Director-General, will participate in a panel interview at the digital Aspen Security Forum on August 6 moderated by NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt.

Having already held more than 90 press briefings since the outset of the pandemic, WHO’s regular briefing will be merged with the Aspen Security Forum for a special session where critical questions about COVID-19 and global security will be addressed. Participating in the briefing will be:

  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO
  • Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme
  • Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical Lead
  • Moderated by Lester Holt, Anchor of NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and Dateline NBC

The panel will take place online on Thursday, August 6 from 10:45-11:30 am ET. The conversation will also be streamed on NBC News NOW,, and on the NBC News NOW channel on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service.

“We are honored to announce that Dr. Tedros and his distinguished colleagues will be participating in the Aspen Security Forum. The World Health Organization is leading a global response to the most significant health crisis of our lifetimes, making its perspective vital in this moment,” said Nicholas Burns, Executive Director of the Aspen Strategy Group.

“On top of the health impact, we have seen the damage COVID-19 has caused economically, politically and socially,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “The world spends billions every year preparing for potential terrorist attacks but we’ve learned lessons the hard way that unless we invest in pandemic preparedness and the climate crisis we leave ourselves open to enormous harm.”

The discussion will consist of opening remarks from Dr. Tedros, followed by NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt moderating a panel interview with the WHO participants. Selected attendees will then be able to submit questions to the group. Panelists will address WHO’s latest response to COVID-19 and provide updates on global efforts to tackle the pandemic through research, treatment, and international cooperation. WHO will also discuss the critical link between health and national security, underscoring the deep political, economic, and social consequences of COVID-19 with the potential to shape international relations for many years to come.

The Aspen Security Forum takes place as a free-to-access digital event from August 4-6. The agenda, which is subject to change, is available at

All programming will broadcast live on Zoom, with conversations running throughout each day from 8:30am ET up to 7:30pm ET. Attendees will have opportunity to ask speakers questions during the live broadcast, and all conversations will be available to watch on the Aspen Institute’s YouTube page. Join the conversation on social media with #AspenSecurity and Follow the Forum on Twitter @AspenSecurity. 

Editor’s Note: Press interested in covering the Aspen Security Forum can register to attend here: A live feed of the conversation will also be provided via a YouTube link.  If you have questions or would like to broadcast footage from the interview, please contact Jon Purves:

The Aspen Strategy Group provides a non-partisan forum to explore the pre-eminent national security and foreign policy challenges facing the nation. Its cross-disciplinary and high-level examination of policy strategies to address emerging topics makes it a crucial resource for the American and global policy communities.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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