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Just hours after President Trump announced his intention to cut off U.S. funding for the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus crisis, the leader of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demurred when asked if the global health agency had failed and if it was wise to halt funding the midst of a pandemic.

“CDC and WHO has had a long history of working together in multiple outbreaks throughout the world, as we continue to do in this one,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said Wednesday on “Good Morning America.” “And so, we’ve had a very productive public health relationship. We continue to have that.”


“So they didn’t fail?” anchor George Stephanopoulos then asked.

“I’d like to do the postmortem on this outbreak once we get through it together,” Redfield replied.

Redfield’s appearance on the show came after Trump on Tuesday signaled the United States would halt its financial support of the WHO, pending an investigation into the agency and its response to the coronavirus outbreak. Trump accused the agency of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”


The United States has provided roughly 15% of the WHO’s total funding over its current two-year budget period.

In a way, Redfield’s comments align with what WHO officials have been arguing as the criticism from Trump and some congressional Republicans has picked up in the past two weeks. They have said no response from any agency is perfect, and that’s why the WHO had a tradition of commissioning reviews of its handling of outbreaks after the emergencies ebbed.

The WHO has a press briefing scheduled for 11 a.m. Eastern Wednesday, during which they will almost certainly address Trump’s announcement Tuesday.

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At recent briefings, WHO officials did not directly criticize Trump for last week proposing the suspension of U.S. support for the agency, but Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that politicizing the pandemic would allow the virus to “exploit” societies and would lead to “many more body bags.” (The WHO has generally avoided publicly criticizing its member states by name during the coronavirus crisis.)

“For now, the focus should be on fighting this virus,” Tedros said last Wednesday.

Trump’s announcement Tuesday set off almost universal condemnation among public health experts and advocates, who warned that halting U.S. funding for the global agency could compound whatever problems exist, particularly during a crisis. Trump suggested that the money the United States sent to WHO might go to other global health organizations, but experts say no other group has the scope and relationships that WHO does.

In uncharacteristically barbed (and identical) tweets, Bill and Melinda Gates warned that “halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of Covid-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them.”

The Trump administration’s criticisms of the WHO have included its praise of China’s response and transparency in the early days of the pandemic, which raised eyebrows even among some supporters of the agency as it became clear that China sought to silence whistleblowers and minimize the severity of the crisis early on.

Trump, who dismissed the threat of the virus for weeks despite receiving warnings from experts within his administration, has also tried to claim the WHO was slow to alert the world about the nefariousness of the virus.

Without alluding to Trump, WHO officials have in the past week outlined all they had done since Chinese officials informed them of a pocket of unexplained pneumonia cases on Dec. 31. Tedros and other WHO leaders have pointed out the agency notified all its member states of the outbreak on Jan. 5 and issued guidance for preventing infections starting on Jan. 10. Those guidances raised the possibility of human-to-human and airborne transmission of the respiratory pathogen and included steps for protecting health care workers.

  • This is not the time to shoot from the hip as this crisis is far from over. The CDC and WHO still need to work together on this, as well as many other projects. Meanwhile, hopefully, the United Nations will oversee a thorough investigation of China, as well as WHO, find them accountable and sanction accordingly. This is probably one of the most horrific manmade disasters of all time, affecting the entire world. Neglect in reporting the upcoming catastrophe as it first unfolded boils down to homicide. Disgraceful. But, we will rise. Unfortunately, there will just be a lot fewer people.

    • I do not think that Trump was shooting from the hip but I agree that this is not the time to make decisions on matters like that. A 15 second statement that he has ordered and investigation would have been sufficient. That is always appropriate.

      I thought he handled the matter very poorly. There seems to be one bad apple at WHO.

      That guy also handled the Taiwan question poorly. He could have simply said that there is a dispute between China and Taiwan and WHO is staying out of that rather than pretending he did not hear the question. There could have been a similar question about Hong Kong with a similar answer.

      There could have been similar questions about the policies of different states in the U.S.

  • The DONALD continues to be a polarizing person. It’s always about him. Sadly he tends to compound problems continuously. Hopefully his leadership during this crisis will hurry his exit from the Whitehouse. A return to normal politics should follow. Hopefully.

  • The U.S president’s move to cut the funding to WHO is thus a backsliding effort towards fighting COVID 19 together as nations of the world . Looking at the WHO experience expertise in handling epidemic through out history , i don’t thing that there is any other health organizations can do it without the efforts of WHO. Let us for now leave blaming each other , and together fight the corona virus together

  • I think Trump’s timing was not good. He could have voiced his complaints in five minutes and moved on.

    Looking for scapegoats right now is not useful. If China or WHO made mistakes that can be reviewed later.

    It was not helpful to Trump. He needs better advisors.

  • The CDC has failed in the same way the WHO has. Both need to become purely organisations coordinating R&D between universities, industry government and think tanks. Not trying to do this in-house.

    • Michael Fishel, did you just came our from some cave?

      Let me list to you the blunders of CDC:

      1. Blunders of the test kit and try to blame it off to some manufacturers. Investigation shows it was their fault. They refuse to accept WHO test kit and decide to be some great hero make their own. This slow the testing, with doubling every two days, imagine how many infected people can 1 person yield after 1 month.

      2. Because of their test kit blunder and still refusing to use the WHO test kit, they created a very strict criteria of only those who comes from Wuhan or who have been in contact from those coming from Wuhan should be tested. Meanwhile many people are getting infected locally. Many people died because they couldn’t be tested because of CDC strict testing criteria.

      2. Allow some people in Travis Air base not to be tested when Mike Pence said everyone will be tested.

      3. Allow the cruise passengers that landed in Atlanta to take commercial flight home, some start showing symptoms when they reach they home state. Imagine how many passenger, airport workers and cabin crew got infected.

      4. Telling people that the risk is low in the US when is spreading locally but uncaught due to CDC testing blunders.

      The list can go on, but CDC had blood in their hand.

      To the CDC officials, and those responsible for the test blunders and cover up, please resign if you still have some decency left in you. You all have blood in your hand.

      Redfield, please resign. Your greed for power for a position you are not competent to tackle has cost many lives and will continue to cost many lives.

      And to the friend of Trump who advise him to ride the coronavirus on, I hope they will experience what the victims of coronavirus and the family they left behind have experience.

  • Well, the agency, CDC, that cause the cover-19 to be widespread in the US thru their many blunders, is of course going to side with another agency, WHO, that cause it to be widespread around the world by just being a mouthpiece of China and not doing their own research.

    CDC together with WHO needs to be disbanded and create a new useful body that will do its job.

    The fact that their is another pandemic going around the world shows how incompetence WHO is. There have been warned by Taiwan about the possibility of human to human transmission yet they still said no human to human transmission in January.

    How can you have so many infected people if there is not human to human transmission ? Animal cannot infect massive about of people.

    Redfield please have some shame of your blunders and resign.

    Tedros, I know you are probably shameless, but don’t worry, bad Karma will come to you and your family for all the evil things you have done.

    • The real blame is for the governments who oversee the CDC, even now the CDC is not allowed to be front and center. The WHO is an advisory body and the US didn’t bother filling their board position under the Trump administration. The Chinese government has failed to crack down on animal smuggling resulting in greater risk of zoonotic diseases. Pointing your finger at the WHO and the CDC is simply scapegoating.

    • The CDC has always been FUBAR. My sweetie was diagnosed with CFIDS and the CDC diverted funds approved for CFIDS research and no one went to jail.

      This has gone one for many administrations so it is not fair to blame it on Trump but government is often a sinecure for those who can’t.

      Developing a test for COVID-19 would not have been difficult. Many states did it but were not allowed to officially use it. My sweetie (who is a disabled Medical Laboratory Director) says it would have taken her a week. So there is plenty of blame to go around.

      Our Media is focused on politics and has little if any investigative capability.

  • “No response from any agency is perfect,” and yet Trump was supposed to second guess WHO and the CDC, rely on one memo circulated by a trade advisor, Peter Navarro, (and an email thread among experts that he knew nothing about), to shut down the country three weeks earlier than he did. Anyone who is reading most media outlets’ coverage of the virus (especially two certain national papers) is being spoon-fed what they want to hear – cherry-picked facts to promote an anti-Trump narrative. It’s been interesting having the time to actually watch the sources to see how slanted certain media coverage is. Trump is far from perfect and a terrible communicator – most of us know what he means, but it’s not what comes out of his mouth which makes for zinging quotes – but he also deserves far more credit than he is getting for his handling of this unprecedented event, and he gets NONE in the media (except from Fox, which is a joke). But I predict a huge backlash to the relentlessly anti-Trump media coverage. Most Americans are very savvy to being manipulated and do NOT like being told how to think!!

    January 14 WHO tweet – no clear evidence of human to human transmission!

    January 23 – WHO tweets “no human to human transmission”

    • “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!”

      January 24 tweet from Trump:

      Trump should have expected the worst and prepared for a pandemic. He had plenty of notice. Whether it was one memo or not, it doesn’t really matter. He probably didn’t even read it. He only had a handful of intelligence briefings in January. He deserves full credit for a shambolic handling of this pandemic, which is evidenced by the economic and human fallout which is unprecedented.

    • Your first email reported “no clear evidence” of human to human transmission, because WHO had none.
      Your second tweet is made up, as is your quote, which is why you don’t link to that one.

      In any case, WHO was warning the US govt and even the public during that time that it might well actually be capable of human to human transmission. And here’s a Jan 21 Stat article that proves it.

      That seems pretty conclusive. So you can stop badmouthing the well-meaning folk at WHO in service to your malign cult leader Trump. Whose handling of this crisis is acknowledged everywhere to be the worst in the world except maybe his pal in Brazil.

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