WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump formally announced Tuesday that the United States will freeze funding to the World Health Organization, pending a formal investigation into the global health agency and its coronavirus response.

In prepared remarks, Trump accused the organization of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” suggesting that the group overly relied on unverified reports from China, which Trump argued caused a “twenty-fold increase in cases worldwide.” He did not cite a source for that figure.

“America and the world have chosen to rely on the WHO for accurate, timely, and independent information to make important public health recommendations and decisions. If we cannot trust that this is what we will receive from the WHO, our country will be forced to find other ways to work with other nations to achieve public health goals,” Trump said.

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The World Health Organization, however, has publicly warned about the potential spread of the coronavirus since January, and publicly warned countries in February to prepare for widescale spread of the virus.

The move comes following Trump’s threat last week to freeze funding to the notoriously cash-strapped organization, which has coordinated global response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The U.S. has provided roughly 15%, or $893 million, of the WHO’s total funding over its current two year-budget period, according to the organization’s website.

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Trump hinted the government would instead direct the same funding to other global health initiatives, though exactly where that money will go is unclear.

Much of Trump’s ire toward the WHO appears to be the result of the organization’s skepticisms toward the use of travel bans. Trump claimed Tuesday that the WHO “fought” the U.S. over its travel ban, although the WHO has never publicly criticized the U.S. policy by name. Instead, the WHO has long advised countries against use of travel bans because they divert resources from other public health interventions. Those recommendations are based on international health regulations that the U.S. government, among others, helped draft in 2005.

But during a press conference Tuesday evening, Trump expanded his criticisms of the organization. For nearly 10 minutes, Trump rattled off purported failures of the WHO in responding to the coronavirus.

“So much death has been caused by their mistakes,” Trump said.

Like Trump, conservatives in Congress and in the Trump administration have criticized the WHO for trusting data the Chinese government has published regarding the coronavirus crisis there.

Sen. Martha McSally (Ariz.) tweeted last Tuesday that “the WHO has acted as a propaganda arm for the Chinese government,” and recently called for WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to resign. Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) has criticized the WHO for continuing to deny membership status to Taiwan, a largely sovereign state over which China claims control. Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.) has called for a congressional investigation into the “World Health Organization’s role in helping Communist China cover up information” regarding the pandemic.

Conservative-leaning news outlets have also excoriated the WHO. Many attacks have focused on a Jan. 14 tweet from the official WHO account, which said “investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” — a claim Chinese state media recanted within a week.

Lev Facher contributed reporting. 

  • Wow, talk about projection! Trump is the one who should be investigated, probably through brain surgery.

  • Can Trump actually withhold money Congress appropriated? Doesn’t seem like it. Maybe an IG could weigh in?

  • Anyone who believed the low number in China while that country went to the huge extent of cancelling its Lunar Year celebrations is very naive – too much for holding a WHO leadership position. The WHO failed in January, that’s right. But the buffoonish pot that now calls the kettle black is even more at fault: when in February the tunes changed and the warning bells were booming all over the world, the US president stuck his orange top in the sand – for a whole month. HE is the cause of the unnecessarily many deaths due to Covid-19 in the US. It is sickening that his clown’s ratings are going up. All dumbos !!!

    • Well said ! But “clown” needs substitution with “murderer”. He is a reactive impulsive mad-man with a finger on the trigger – attempting to cover up his own faults by laying the blame elsewhere. HE is guilty of huge denouncing, ludicrous down-playing, minimizing what experts are warning about, and now he wants the economy back to “normal”. What “normal” ? The world will never be the same, but he refuses to see that too. America is doomed under that dangerous man.

  • China is a closed country and in that regard it’s easy to imagine the WHO is likewise given only a certain amount of information. What are they supposed to do? They aren’t fortune tellers. I believe they were honestly don’t the best they could with the information provided. It’s awfully easy to throw around accusations with zero proof. I’m not defending China at all, but the world needs the WHO. When t they openly compare the amount of funding for the organization between the two countries, it sounds like since we provide the most funding that they should doing our bidding. Hopefully they tell Trump thanks but no thanks for the funding. We deserve to be left in the dust.

  • so the simple question I ask is why has it taken Trump’s Presidency to show how blatantly corrupt the Chinese government is ; also their abusive trade policies and stealing of R and D , patents and technology from our best universities where 400 K Chinese students data mind our content

  • This is classic Trump! He screws things up due to the fact that all he cares about is his financial well being and that of his minions. Then he blames it on someone else that isn’t a political “kiss up”. The sad thing is that many uninformed Americans will believe it.

  • I had been following WHO response since January as well as during the Ebola crises that swept thru Africa. WHO needs to be dissolve.

    I remember reading an article here in Statnews complaining about countries putting travel ban on China. There was some WHO “experts” and some nonane phd who just graduated four years ago of foreign policy, complaining about countries closing their borders to China.

    WHO announce to the world that there was no human to human transmission in mid Jan. There is a petition in change.org to remove Tedros because of his kowtowing to China. WHO misled the world about the human to human transmission and have blood in its hand inside and outside of US.

    Tedros, if your actions are driven by self interest and greeds. Then I pray that you and your generation will pay the price for causing so much suffering and death in the world. Many children lost their parent/s, many parent/s lose their children. Some families have multiple deaths.

    Tedros, I hope the fruits of your evil did follow you and your descendants and that you will pay the price of your descendants ceasing to exist in 100 years. You cost so much deaths and sufferings. You have blood in your hand.

    • Don’t blame WHO or Tedros! America had all the time she needs to prepare for this virus, I was watching trump’s response chronologically and it was embarrassing, so don’t blame WHO, but if you really need to blame someone, blame the trump the sociopath

    • Jabe, your vision is too narrow. Some third world countries do not have the means nor the intelligence capacity that the US have. They only go by whatever WHO said.

      When I am saying Tedros have blood in his hand, I am referring to the whole world. Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, they all did well in their response, but they still people dying of covid.

    • Jabe, your hatred to Trump is blinding you to the truth of WHO and Tedros corruptions. Should I blame Trump for death outside of US?

      Wake up and don’t be consume of your hatred for Trump that you cannot see the truth. The world is bigger than US and there are death going on all over the world due to Wuhan virus. Should I blame this on Trump instead of WHO ? Who is a sociopath now for asking to blame Trump for the death and suffering of the whole world due to cover-19. Don’t you think your suggestion sounds like coming from a sociopath for asking me to blame Trump instead of WHO for what is going on in the world with regards to the Wuhan virus?

  • WHO is responsible for a botched response to a deadly pandemic that caused unneeded mass suffering and gruesome fatalities? Mr. Trump is..that’s who!

  • Seems Mr. Trump wants to take the heat off himself for his failure to adequately respond to this epidemic by blaming the World Health Organization. Nice try.
    Your poor judgment can’t be undone.

    • The WHO failed in its mission to prevent the pandemic. They also failed Africa during the ebola crisis by not taking it seriously. They need to be defunded and dissolve, replace by a neutral organization. Whether Trump is using is as a diversion is irrelevant. I had been following WHO response since Jan and it is so obvious that Tedros need to go. I had allow read the doctors blaming WHO for its inaction during the Ebola crisis in Africa.

      Tedros had blood in his had by ignoring Taiwan hints that it may have human to human transmission. For his kowtowing to China because Ethopia gets donation, he failed to do his duty to be neutral and inform the world of the danger of the wuhan virus.

      Tedros, only you knows what’s in your heart why you did those things. If what drive your action are self interest. Then I pray that you descendant will reap what you sow. May your descendant cease to exist in 100 years Families lose many members because of you.

    • Jean please. We are in a crisis. It is very easy to point fingers when one has experienced family loss. Don’t attack the family of the Director of Who by wishing poor health on his family. “May your descendant cease to exist in 100 years” Your comments are immature and very inappropriate. I agree that WHO should evaluate their communication protocols. We, however, don’t know if China is accurately reporting their numbers to WHO as they are a closed society. The information they supply is only what they want us to know. I think their numbers are skewed and are greater than they are acctually reporting. This is not a time to attack, but to reevaluate our protocols. We need to work together to make the world a better place. I don’t agree with President Trumps communication methods. Frequently His comments are unsubstantiated blunders. Read the new sources from other countries and you will gain a better perspective. I sincerely hope we all come together to cure this disease. Yes; there are many tragics losses and all of us are suffering with the loss of family members.

    • Paula, thanks for you decent feedback. What Trump did is limited to the US, but there are countries in the world that only follow what WHO said. Those poor countries have people dying, poor countries that cannot afford to test or give the correct treatment to its people. The people who died also have families. Did Tedros even think about those people when he kowtow to China lies? What I said is not immature, what you sow is what you reap.

      He sow deads with his corrupt acts. Look at his history in Ethopia, it wasn’t that clean either.

      There are already leaks coming out from China, we know as early as January that the information is not true, yet Tedros is just acting as China mouthpiece.

      I am not sure why people are so focus on Trump, there are dead all over the world because of WHO actions. You cannot lay those dead on Trump, it is because of Tedros and WHO failures.

    • Paula, my advised to you. Do not be quick to make assumptions. One does not have to lose love ones to feel sadness and grief over all the deads in the world due to covid-19. Each number is a person with a face. Each number have families. One had to be made of stone not to feel for those victims.

      I also tell people the truth about the need to wear mask since our governemnt had misled people that only those people with symptoms need to wear mask, knowing symptomatic people are infectious.

      I do whatever I can do to educate people how to take precautions, hoping there will be one less people falling ill with covid-19.

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