Coronavirus: Trump threatens to withdraw US from WHO and end funding completely

President Trump has demanded immediate action before withdrawing US from WHO

Gino Spocchia
Tuesday 19 May 2020 14:17 BST
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Donald Trump has said that he will permanently withdraw the United States and its funding from the World Health Organisation (WHO) without "major substantive improvements in the next 30 days."

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Mr Trump said on Monday night that "It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organisation in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world.”

“The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China,” continued Mr Trump. "My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organisation. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste."

The ultimatum comes as more than 90,000 Americans and more than 318,000 people worldwide have died from the coronavirus.

Downing Street made clear the UK will not follow Mr Trump in any withdrawal of funding from the multilateral organisation.

Asked about Trump’s threat, prime minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “It will be a matter for the US. But we are clear on the important role the WHO has in leading the international response to coronavirus and we have no plans to stop funding the WHO.”

Mr Trump maintains that the WHO and China were slow to alert the world about Covid-19, and in April said his administration would conduct an audit of America’s membership of the global health body.

That review, said Mr Trump in the letter, had “confirmed many of the serious concerns” he had.

One example provided in the letter seen on Twitter on Monday night, accused the WHO of giving-in to Chinese pressure to announce a global emergency and buying into the Chinese state narrative about the spread of the virus.

That comes despite the US president downplaying the coronavirus threat in the US until March, and praising the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, for his work to control the coronavirus.

Amid other allegations about the WHO's conduct over Covid-19, the US president warned that he "cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organisation that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America's interests".

Mr Trump said in April that he would temporarily withdraw US funding, which amounts to almost $500m each year (£410m).

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