WASHINGTON DC – US President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced that his government was suspending funding to the World Health Organization, accusing it of colluding with China to cover up the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak.
US is WHO’s biggest funder and contributed $400m in 2019.
“With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible,” Trump told a press conference, claiming that WHO downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic when it was first discovered in China.
He added if the WHO had done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with few deaths.
“This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage. Instead, the WHO willingly took China’s assurances to face value… and defended the actions of the Chinese government,” he said.
Mr Trump said WHO prevented transparency over the outbreak and the United States will now “discuss what we do with all that money that goes to the WHO.”
He said WHO’s lack of openness cost other countries crucial time to prepare and delayed decisions to stop international travel.
“The WHO’s attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above life-saving measures,” he said.
The World Health Organization in its history has done some good work. Unfortunately here, it didn’t hit the top of its game,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is quoted by AFP as saying.
“We need to make sure that we push through efforts to fundamentally change that or make a different decision that says we’re going to do our part to make sure that these important world health obligations — things that frankly keep Americans safe, too — actually function,” he said.
Critics say that Trump is eager for a foreign scapegoat as he comes under fire for his own handling of the pandemic, which he boasted in January was “totally under control” but has now killed more than 23,500 people in the United States — more than in any other country.