President Trump on Monday threatened to permanently cut funding to the World Health Organization if it does not “commit to major substantive improvements” within the next 30 days.
Trump suspended funding to the WHO in April, accusing it of “mismanaging” the COVID-19 crisis and “covering up” the situation in China. Had the organization done its job properly, argued Trump, the pandemic could have been contained at the source with little death.
A subsequent investigation by the Trump Administration suggests WHO officials actively ignored early reports of COVID-19 and claimed the virus could not pass from one person to another, weeks after receiving reports on human-to-human transmission from Taiwan.
As Trump noted in a scathing letter to WHO Director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO is required by international regulations to report the risk of a health emergency with 24 hours. Instead, the agency waited until January 30th to declare a “public health emergency of international concern.”
Presumably, they were pressured by Chinese President Xi Jinping to downplay the virus for as long as possible.
On January 28th, the WHO congratulated China on its “transparency” and said China had “set a new standard for outbreak control” and “bought the world time.” But they avoided commenting on the treatment of Zhang Yongzhen, a Chinese doctor who sequenced the genome of COVID-19 on January 5th. When he posted it online six days later, authorities closed his lab for “rectification.”
When the WHO finally sent a team of scientists to Wuhan in mid-February, they didn’t complain when officials denied entry to the only two Americans on the team. For reasons unknown, the WHO supported China’s domestic travel restrictions but opposed the closing of the US border.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China,” wrote Trump. “I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests.”
Trump posted his letter to Dr. Tedros on Twitter the same day that all 194 WHO member states attended a virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly. During the meeting, Dr. Tedros was pressured by more than 110 countries to approve an independent investigation of the global COVID-19 response.
The United States is the largest contributor to the WHO, donating between $400 and $500 million each year. To date, the US has reported 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 and 93,500 deaths. Worldwide, the virus has infected 4.8 million and killed 319,000.
Editor’s note: Heads have to roll. Without a complete turnover of all of the leadership of WHO, by persons vetted by us and by other participants, there is no way to trust them again.
But Trump is playing it cagey, he knows that a new organization would be difficult to get into place.