US President Donald Trump announced yesterday that he would be cutting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The cut comes when the number of people dying from coronavirus in the US rose by at least 2,228 – the highest in a single day – on Tuesday to exceed 28,300. The US now has more than 600,000 confirmed cases of the virus, the highest in the world, far higher than the next two countries combined, Spain and Italy.
At least 1.98 million people around the world have now been confirmed to have the new coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 126,500 have died, while nearly 486,500 have recovered.
The US is the WHO’s biggest donor, with funding over $400m a year in both assessed contributions (membership fees) and donations – though it is actually $200m in arrears.
Trump told a White House news conference the WHO had “failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable.” He said the group had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak of the virus than otherwise would have occurred.
Public health officials generally agree that the WHO’s response to the pandemic has not been perfect, but much improved on the organisation’s lambasted performance in the face of the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
The coronavirus was first reported from China in late of December, though independent investigations now reveal the virus may have been spreading in China from as early as mid November 2019.
WHO at the time relied on many facts and information from the Chinese government, again, this information has been found to have been misleading and greatly impacted the attention and response other countries gave to the pandemic.