Geneva: A total of 62 countries, including India has backed a joint effort by Australia and European Union, calling for an independent inquiry into the WHO's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a draft resolution proposed for the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting beginning today.

The draft calls for an "impartial, independent and comprehensive" probe into the coronavirus crisis. Besides, an inquiry into the actions of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and "their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic."

"Initiate, at the earliest appropriate moment, and in consultation with the Member States a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing Mechanisms, as appropriate, to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19," the draft report reads.

Last month, Australia was the first country to call for an independent inquiry into how the coronavirus started.

European nations and Australia have been gathering support for an "impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of "the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19".

Australian foreign minister Marise Payne said allowing the WHO to investigate the outbreak "strikes me as a bit poacher and gamekeeper," ABC reported.

"This is about collaborating to equip the international community to better prevent or counter the next pandemic and keep our citizens safe," Payne was quoted as saying by ABC.

However, the motion has not found the mention of China or the city of Wuhan where the outbreak is believed to have started.

Other major countries named in the EU-backed draft include Japan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Korea, Brazil, and Canada.

With agency inputs