The World Health Organisation is easy to cast as just another lumbering United Nations bureaucracy and there is more than a bit of truth in that.
Established in 1948 in the aftermath of World War II, its mandate comes from no fewer than 193 member states, each with their own peculiarities and vested interests.
The organisation is lauded for its role in the eradication of smallpox, the near-eradication of polio and the fight against the three big global killers of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.
But, as it freely admits, it also gets things wrong.
It reacted too slowly to the 2013 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and in, 2009, critics say it overplayed the threat posed by the H1N1 swine flu pandemic.
But what makes the WHO unique is not the core bureaucracy itself but the thousands of scientists who make up its vast archipelago expert steering committees.
Working for the WHO in the advancement of human health holds huge cache for any vocationally minded academic and it attracts many of the best minds in the world.
With knowledge comes power, and it is no coincidence that as the value of science and data has boomed, governments around the world have started eyeing the WHO with growing interest, sometimes envy.
"The strength of WHO is that it is able to bring together public health experts from around the world to exchange information, review scientific evidence, and make evidence based consensus recommendations on disease prevention and control", says Professor David Heymann, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and himself a WHO adviser.
"By bringing experts from all countries together informally and through its independent advisory groups WHO is a trusted source of information about the Covid-19 pandemic".
For countries which reacted slowly to the coronavirus outbreak, the WHO's expertise in Covid-19 and pandemics generally poses a political challenge.
Its advice, always honed down into forensically concise and readable communiques, is shared equally with all its 193 member states – and the world.
Take Taiwan whose reaction to the pandemic is generally held to have been exemplary. It is not a WHO member but its national pandemic plan could have been written after the current outbreak rather than seven years before it.
Stockpiles of personal protective equipment, the capacity for mass testing, and plan for a nationwide quarantine and devices to keep the economy running are all there.
And right at the top of the document it says: "[This] strategic plan is defined pursuant to the… recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO)".
United States President Donald Trump accuses the WHO of having become "China-centric". But it is more the case that Asia, scarred by its experience of Sars in 2003, has become more WHO-centric than many Western nations. Exceptions include Iceland and Germany.
These countries did not just have pandemic plans in place of the type the WHO recommends but readied themselves quickly when the WHO issued its first warnings about the outbreak in the first week of January.
When at a press conference on January 14, Maria Van Kerhkove, the American epidemiologist who heads the WHO's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, told reporters there was "the possibility of human-to-human transmission between people" and "there's also the possibility of super-spreading events" they swung those plans into action.
Will the WHO be found to have acted too slowly to the coronavirus pandemic? It may be and, if so, an independent inquiry of the type it is always subject to after a major incident will almost certainly dig up the evidence.
But you might also ask, did the WHO shout a warning in time enough for its nations to act? The reactions of Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore all suggest that it did.