WHO Pushes Back On Trump Threatening to Withhold Funds

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director-general, said countries should unify or risk worsening the coronavirus pandemic. His comments came after President Trump on Tuesday threatened to withhold funds from the U.N. agency, saying it “seemed to be very China-centric.”

Dr. Bruce Aylward, who serves as senior adviser to the organization’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters that it “was absolutely critical in the early part of this outbreak to have full access to everything possible, to get on the ground and work with the Chinese to understand this,” Reuters reported Wednesday.

“This is what we did with every other hard hit country like Spain and had nothing to do with China specifically,” he continued.

Aylward’s comments come after Trump criticized the WHO for its coronavirus response, saying they “really blew it.” He also rejected Trump’s criticism about the WHO’s recommendation to keep U.S. borders open to China, pointing to steps Beijing made early to mitigate the disaster.

“The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look,” Trump tweeted on early Tuesday, adding: “Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”

The U.S. reportedly gave the WHO $400 million in 2019, which is supposedly eight times more than China gave last year.

When asked by a reporter if it was a good idea to withhold funding to the health organization amid the pandemic, Trump responded: “I’m not going to say I’m going to do it. We will look at ending funding.”

WHO’s Euopean regional director Dr. Hans Kluge said in a briefing, “We are still in the acute phases of a pandemic, so now is not the time to cut back on funding.”

See sources at WaPo and The Hill.