US Leaves WHO in Wake of Coronavirus Pandemic, Says President Trump

President Trump said the U.S. will leave the WHO, alleging the agency protected China in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Brad Bergan

President Trump said the U.S. would halt all funding of the World Health Organization and remove itself from the agency — alleging the agency protected China in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, during an address in the Rose Garden at the White House.


US leaving WHO, says Trump

Health experts say this decision will subvert efforts to improve global health levels in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the address, Trump said the WHO hadn't made reforms he claims would have helped the global health agency prevent the coronavirus from spreading to nearly every corner of the world.

"We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs," said Trump in the address. "The world needs answers from China on the virus."

UPDATE May 20, 4:40 PM EDT: Steps for US to leave WHO

It's not clear whether Trump can actually withdraw U.S. funding in total from the WHO without an act of Congress, which is supposed to control all federal government spending. Democratic lawmakers have said such a unilateral move would be illegal, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who last month said the move would be "swiftly challenged," reports Stat News.

The U.S. counts for roughly 15% of the WHO's total funding during its current two-year budget period.

In contrast, the WHO has repeatedly cited its commitment to a review of its global response — although not until the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was over. In April, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield said the "postmortem" on the outbreak should happen only after the emergency has passed.

UPDATE May 29, 4:50 PM EDT: Increased scrutiny of Trump administration on the coronavirus outbreak

It's important to note how the Trump administration and its response to the pandemic have come under greater scrutiny, with coronavirus testing issues and a general lack of coordination in disbursing essential supplies to affected populations.

In response to this scrutiny, Trump seeks to blame China and the WHO for failing to curb the spread of the illness in its early days, when it was still contained in China.

During his address, the president alleged (without citing evidence) that China pressured WHO to misdirect the world on the truth about the virus. According to Stat News, some experts predict a U.S. withdrawal from the WHO to be followed by a growth in China's global influence.

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