The US president has been critical of the international organization for its handling of the coronavirus.
Donald Trump on Tuesday night said he would halt funding to the World Health Organization while his administration reviews the group’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. He’s been increasingly critical of the organization’s early response to the health crisis as he’s sought to deflect criticism over his administration’s slow response to the outbreak.
Trump attacked the organization for opposing early travel restrictions to China and accused WHO of being overly deferential to the Chinese early in the outbreak, even though Trump himself often hailed the Chinese government’s response until a few weeks ago.
Trump’s announcement comes in the middle of the worst global pandemic in decades and as he angrily defends his own handling of the outbreak in the United States.
Amid swirling questions about whether he downplayed the crisis or ignored warnings from members of his administration about its potential severity, Trump has sought to assign blame elsewhere, including at the WHO and in the news media. The US funds $400 million to $500 million to the WHO each year, Trump said, noting that China “contributes roughly $40 million.”
“Had the WHO 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 very little death,” Trump said.
His decision to withdraw funding from the WHO follows a pattern of skepticism of world organizations that began well before the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has questioned US funding to the United Nations, withdrawn from global climate agreements and lambasted the World Trade Organization — claiming all were ripping off the United States.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said earlier Tuesday that while the WHO and China “made mistakes,” Trump is also looking to deflect blame from his own administration.
“Right now, there is a very coordinated effort amongst the White House and their allies to try to find scapegoats for the fatal mistakes that the President made during the early stages of this virus,” he said.
Murphy added: “It is just wildly ironic that the President and his allies are now criticising China or the WHO for being soft on China when it was in fact the President who was the chief apologist for China during the early stages of this crisis.
Trump said Tuesday if the WHO had acted appropriately, he could have instituted a travel ban on people coming from China sooner.
He said the WHO made a “dangerous and costly” decision to oppose travel restrictions from China.
But just days before Trump instituted his ban on travellers from China, he also was praising the country.
China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
On January 24, Trump tweeted: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!
In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged Tuesday the country does not yet have the critical testing and contact tracing procedures needed to safely begin reopening the nation’s economy, as the White House prepares to announce a council to do just that — and “ahead of schedule,” according to the president.
“We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci told The AP.
He called the possibility of opening businesses by May 1 “a bit overly optimistic” for many areas of the country and repeated his suggestion that any easing off the social distancing guidelines should happen on a “rolling” basis.
Fauci also said the White House briefings can be “really draining” and signaled that his time might be better spent directing government research.
“If I had been able to just make a few comments and then go to work, that would have really been much better,” he said. “It isn’t the idea of being there and answering questions, which I really think is important for the American public. It’s the amount of time.”
It’s not uncommon for the president’s briefings to last more than two hours.
Senator looks to protect Fauci with legislation that echoes Mueller protection bills
Echoing legislation that a bipartisan group of senators authored to protect special counsel Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is looking to shield Fauci from being fired by President Trump for anything other than “malfeasance, neglect of office, or incapacity.”
“We cannot allow Donald Trump to silence Dr. Fauci or any other government scientists,” Markey said in a statement. “This legislation will close the hole in the law that currently allows the President to fire a National Institutes of Health Director such as Dr. Fauci for any reason. Educating the public about the science and the facts that will save lives is not, and should never be, a firing offence.”
The UK give £200m in aid to developing nations
Of the £200m in funding, £130m will go to United Nations agencies, including £65m for the World Health Organization (WHO), which is co-ordinating the global response to the pandemic.
Another £50m will boost the Red Cross in difficult to reach areas such as those affected by armed conflict, and a final £20m will help non-government organisations, including UK charities.
The UK’s latest donation comes after US President Donald Trump accused the WHO of being “China-centric” in its tackling of the pandemic.