Enlarge /. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in the White House rose garden on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
President Donald Trump said today that the United States would stop funding the World Health Organization until its government has completed a review of the group's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Today I am instructing my government to stop funding the World Health Organization while a review is underway to assess the role of the World Health Organization in the serious mismanagement and cover-up of the spread of the coronavirus," Trump said at a press conference today.
The US gives the WHO $ 400-500 million a year and "has a duty to insist on full accountability," Trump said. Trump said his government would "talk to other countries and global health partners" about what to do with US funds that would normally go to WHO. The United States provides around 15 percent of the WHO budget. "Government officials signaled that the [funding] suspension would be for 60 days," said Bloomberg, who noted that the United States "has contributed $ 893 million to WHO operations during its current two-year funding cycle."
While "Congress Democrats say that Mr Trump cannot cut WHO funds alone", the "White House Budget Bureau has determined that the President has several options to withhold money from WHO without Congress approval", for example, by "ordering"] Agencies to divert the money for other related purposes, "the Wall Street Journal reported.
Trump argued today that "the source of the outbreak with very little death at its source could have been contained" if WHO had pushed back China's claims. He said:
The WHO failed to examine credible reports from sources in Wuhan that directly contradicted the official accounts of the Chinese government. There was credible information suspected of human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have prompted the WHO to investigate immediately. By mid-January, despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary, the idea that no human-to-human transmission was taking place was being vindicated and publicly supported. The delays experienced by WHO in reporting a public health emergency have cost valuable time and time.
As the Washington Post wrote today, the WHO "declared a global health emergency by January 30, after which the president played down the outbreak and compared it to the flu." The Trump administration finally recommended social distancing in mid-March.
Trump praised China in January and said the virus was under control
Despite the claim that the WHO should have known that China was lying until mid-January, Trump himself praised China on January 24 for its "transparency."
"China has worked very hard to contain the corona virus," Trump tweeted at the time. "The United States greatly appreciates its efforts and transparency. Everything will go well. On behalf of the American people in particular, I would like to thank President Xi!"
The United States announced its first confirmed coronavirus case on January 21. On January 22nd, Trump said, "We have him completely under control. It is a person who comes from China and we have him under control. It will be fine."
But today Trump said that in December and January, WHO "should have done its job to bring medical experts to China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and highlight China's lack of transparency … this would have saved thousands of lives instead WHO readily accepted China's assurances at face value and … defended the Chinese government’s actions and even praised China for its so-called transparency. "
Trump says his travel ban has saved many lives
Trump also argued that his China travel ban announced on January 31 saved "thousands and thousands" of lives, while WHO "was very against what we did".
"The WHO has advanced China's misinformation about the virus, saying it is non-transferable and that travel bans are not required," Trump said. "They told us when we imposed our travel ban that there was no need not to do it, they actually fought us."
A USA Today article states: "There is never a public record of WHO actively criticizing the United States or any other country for deciding to ban coronavirus travel," and WHO "Rejects all travel bans during a pandemic, not just Trumps." Health experts say Trump's travel ban had little impact on the spread of the pandemic. WHO said on January 24 that it "advised against the application of restrictions on international traffic based on the information currently available on the event."
Trump said today that the pandemic would have been less severe if other countries like the United States had banned travel. "Fortunately, I wasn't convinced [by WHO] and I stopped the trip from China to save countless lives," said Trump. "If other nations had also stopped traveling from China, countless other lives would have been saved … WHO's attack on travel restrictions has put political correctness above life-saving measures."
According to the Washington Post, 38 countries issued travel bans before Trumps entered into force on February 2.
"It would have been so easy to be honest," Trump said of the WHO, arguing that "WHO has not addressed any of these issues, nor has it given a serious explanation that recognizes its own mistakes, many of which have been made."
As the corona virus spreads in the United States, states have closed schools and businesses to limit illnesses and deaths. Trump wants to push ahead with the reopening of the economy and claims yesterday that he has "total" authority to override governors and force states to lift the shutdown orders. But coalitions of governors on the east and west coast yesterday announced pacts to follow science, not politics, in their decisions to reopen economies.
Trump said today that he will speak to all 50 governors and "empower" each governor to "implement a state reopening plan at a time and in a manner that is most appropriate."