‘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…’
(Liberty Headlines) More than 100 nations are now demanding an investigation into the role China and the World Health Organization played in concealing the deadly coronavirus—including information about its origin and early spread.
Leading the way is President Donald Trump, who wrote a searing letter to the UN-backed organization posted late Monday, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping announced that same day that he would supply WHO with an additional $2 billion in funding.
This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory! pic.twitter.com/pF2kzPUpDv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020
In the letter to WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump wrote that WHO’s “repeated missteps” in its response to the pandemic have proven “very costly for the world.”
Trump laid out several pieces of evidence that he had discovered as a result of what he said was a review of WHO’s role in the management of the pandemic crisis.
He noted that it had failed to independently investigate the reports it had received as early as December 2019 that conflicted China’s claims.
He also accused it of helping to engage in a cover up after realizing the scope and risk of the virus, surmising that it “chose not to share any of this information with the rest of the world, probably for political reasons.”
Trump also outlined a series of “grossly inaccurate” claims that WHO had made during the course of the pandemic, including its repeated praise for China throughout the month of January.
In fact, he noted that WHO had been “curiously insistent” on praising China’s ‘transparency’ throughout—even as it was clear that China has been entirely opaque in its release of information.
And he said they slow-walked the decision to declare a “pandemic” leading others to delay their own decisions. By the time of the March 11 declaration, the coronavirus already “had killed more than 4,000 people and infected more than 100,000 people in at least 114 countries.”
Trump pinned many of the failures on Tedros, noting that his predecessor had been able far more effectively to manage similar outbreaks from China and other regions.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly to the world,” he said. “The only way forward … is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.”
Trump reiterated his threat to cut U.S. funding permanently and abandon membership in WHO unless the agency commits to “substantive improvements” in the next 30 days.
“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,” he wrote.
The U.S. is WHO’s biggest donor, providing about $450 million a year.
Despite the evidence presented by the White House and serious allegations of past corruption involving Tedros, whom China heavily lobbied for the role, Devi Sridhar, a professor of global health at the University of Edinburgh, said the letter was likely written for Trump’s political base while insisting that WHO remained a neutral entity.
“China and the U.S. are fighting it out like divorced parents while WHO is the child caught in the middle, trying not to pick sides,” Sridhar said.
“President Trump doesn’t understand what the WHO can and cannot do,” she said, explaining that it sets international standards and is driven by its member countries. “If he thinks they need more power, then member states should agree and delegate it more.”
Michael Head, a senior research fellow at the University of Southampton, said much of what Trump was demanding was beyond WHO’s intended scope.
“The WHO have limited powers, in terms of what they can demand of countries where outbreaks are taking place,” Head said. “They provide expert guidance and not enforcement by law.”
Deflecting from the WHO culpability in the cover-up, Head insisted that there were clear gaps in governance elsewhere that allowed COVID-19 to spread—notably in the U.S., which has seen 1.5 million infections and over 90,000 deaths linked to COVID-19.
Even so, the U.S. fatality rate has remained consistently below global average throughout the crisis, offering a telling indicator of a successful response in largely avoiding the mass outbreaks seen in other places, with one exception being New York.
China’s data, meanwhile, has remained suspiciously flatlined following claims that it had no new cases that contradicted witness accounts.
Trump joined more than 100 other nations in asking for an independent investigation of China as one of the preconditions to the resumption of funding and support.
WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said the organization had no immediate response to Trump’s letter. The agency has previously noted that it declared a global health emergency on Jan. 30, when there were fewer than 100 cases of coronavirus outside of China.
When that declaration was made, WHO chief Tedros said China was setting a new standard for outbreak response. He said the world owed China its gratitude for the way it bought other nations time to plan with the extraordinary measures it was taking to contain the virus.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press