In response to the WHO dropping a major ball in its response to the China-originated Novel Coronavirus pandemic which killed over 90,000 people worldwide and brought the global economy to a screeching halt, President Trump is threatening to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from the WHO.
On two separate occasions, China was able to exert its political influence over the independent health organization. When the epidemic was still in its early stages, the WHO blindly accepted China’s claim that the Coronavirus was not transmittable from person to person. However, we now know that in late December and early January Chinese officials ochastrated a coverup of the severity of the virus and ordered Wuhan researchers to destroy any samples they were testing on and to delete their research, so it is likely China knew of the transmissibility before they made the news public.
After the danger of Coronavirus became more apparent, the United States was among the first to implement a travel ban against China to prevent undiagnosed carriers from transmitting the disease to the United States. The WHO condemned the U.S. on February 3rd, saying travel bans “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” though bans were eventually copied by most Western countries. WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added, “we call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent.”
The United States is the largest contributor of the WHO, which has a yearly budget of $5.6 billion. The U.S.’s contributors make up 15% of that.
In early February, Forbes reported “the Trump administration requested a reduction in U.S. financial contributions to the WHO from $122.6m to an assessed contribution of $57.9m.” Though, “despite the slashed budget, that figure still makes the U.S. the WHO’s top financial contributor by far.” The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is the second largest contributor to the WHO; their contributions make up 9% of organizations budget.
President Trump revitalized these threats earlier this week, saying the organization was too “China-centric.” According to NPR, “he complained that the WHO ‘receives vast amounts of money from the United States’ and that the organization ‘called it wrong.'”
“They could have called it months earlier,” Trump added. “They would have known and they should have known and they probably did not. So we’ll be looking into that very carefully.” Trump is referring to the WHO accepting Chinese propaganda about the virus without verifying the information.
“We’re gonna put a hold on money spent to the WHO,” Trump told reporters. However, he quickly weakened his stance by saying “we’re going to take a look at it.”
The WHO “seem to come down on the side of China,” Trump continued. “‘Don’t close your borders to China,’ they don’t report what’s really going on. They didn’t see it, and yet they were there, they didn’t see what was going on in Wuhan. They didn’t see it. How do you not see it? They didn’t report it. They must have seen it, but they didn’t report it.”
WHO director responded by saying “we are close to every nation, we are color-blind.”
He called for the U.S. and other nations to stop politicizing the crisis, “please, unity at national level, no using Covid or political points. Second, honest solidarity at the global level. And honest leadership from the US and China.” Dr. Tedros added, “the most powerful should lead the way and please quarantine Covid politics.”