President Trump On Monday delivered a powerful message to the leader of the World Health Organization (WHO) in regards to the organization’s early role in the spread of COVID-19.
Following the conclusion of a White House investigation into the WHO’s handling of the virus in the early stages of the outbreak, the president said his administration has confirmed multiple failures were committed by the global health cooperative, and warned that the current funding freeze may be a permanent one if they do not make “substantive” improvements within 30 days.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” he wrote in a letter to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.”
President Trump has remained adamant about the fact that Beijing – aided in large part by the WHO –initially downplayed the severity of the virus, leading to a more widespread outbreak.
Trump announced in April that the U.S. would halt funding to the organization, adding that his administration would undertake a 60-to-90 day investigation into why the “China-centric” WHO had caused “so much death” by “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus’ spread, including by making the “disastrous” decision to oppose travel restrictions on China.
The U.S. was the WHO’s largest single donor. Trump said the United States contributes roughly $400 to $500 million per year to WHO, while China offers only about $40 million.
Immediately after the U.S. froze its funding for the WHO, China pledged further monetary support for the organization, heaping praise its leadership, saying the agency “had actively fulfilled its duties with objective science-based and fair position.”
Trump’s letter offers a bullet-point list of shortcomings at the agency that the White House suggests could have been prevented under the right leadership.
The WHO “consistently ignored credible reports of the virus” in December 2019. By the end of that month, it was clear at the organization that the virus was a “major health concern.”
Taiwanese authorities told health officials at the organization about human-to-human transmission, but that revelation was not shared with the international community.
The letter also states that the International Health Regulations require countries to report the “risk of a health emergency within 24 hours” and continued to lay the blame squarely on China and the WHO for weeks of non-action.
“By the time you finally declared the virus a pandemic on March 11, 2020, it had killed more than 4,000 people and infected more than 100,000 people in at least 114 countries,” the letter read.
WHO told Reuters Tuesday that it was reviewing the letter and to expect a comment sometime later in the day.
The U.S. is far from alone in its skepticism surrounding the Coronavirus. Australia’s Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that well over 100 countries announced at the World Health Assembly that they supported an international investigation into China.