Coronavirus: Trump gives WHO ultimatum about Covid-19 handling

Coronavirus: Trump gives WHO ultimatum about Covid-19 handling

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable in the State Dining Room of the White House May 18Graphic copyright
Getty Pictures

Picture caption

Mr Trump accuses the UN company of getting an “alarming lack of independence” from China.

US President Donald Trump has despatched a letter to the head of the Environment Health and fitness Group (WHO) threatening to pull US funding forever about Covid-19.

The letter outlines a thirty-working day deadline for the physique to commit to “substantive improvements” or possibility losing hundreds of thousands and US membership altogether.

Addressed to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, it criticises levels of the body’s response because December.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Trump known as the UN’s well being physique a “puppet of China”.

The president, who faces re-election this yr and has himself been criticised for his dealing with of the pandemic, has blamed China for striving to address up the outbreak and has accused the WHO of failing to hold Beijing to account.

Chinese international ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated Mr Trump was attempting to mislead the public, smear China and “shift the blame for [the US’s] possess incompetent response”.

The US has additional than one.five million of the world’s 4.8 million confirmed circumstances of coronavirus so significantly, with a lot more than ninety,000 fatalities.

Mr Trump’s ultimatum also arrives at a time of tension for the WHO.

On Monday Dr Tedros backed a evaluation of the agency’s dealing with of the pandemic. He explained an independent evaluation would just take place “at the earliest suitable moment”.

What does the letter say?

Mr Trump printed the letter on Twitter on Monday night time, next a working day of heavy US criticism of the overall health agency.

Overall health Secretary Alex Azar spoke at the WHO’s Planet Wellbeing Assembly and accused the organisation of permitting Covid-19 spin “out of control” at the value of “a lot of lives”.

Media playback is unsupported on your gadget

Media captionUS Overall health Secretary Alex Azar: WHO failure to obtain facts ‘cost quite a few lives’

In his letter to Dr Tedros, the US president accuses the WHO of getting an “alarming lack of independence” from China.

Amid his assertions, Mr Trump accuses the company of owning “regularly dismissed” what he describes as “credible studies” of the virus spreading in Wuhan at the start off of December or even previously.

The US president has repeatedly accused China of failings in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Beijing denies the allegation. Previously this thirty day period, the Chinese foreign ministry said the place experienced “all along been in excellent communication and co-operation” with the WHO and experienced “by no means attempted to manipulate the organisation”.

Also in the letter, Mr Trump:

  • Cites reviews that the WHO delayed an emergency declaration below pressure from President Xi Jinping
  • Criticises the agency’s praise of China’s “transparency” amid its censorship and absence of international co-procedure
  • Accuses the WHO of failing to comment on virus-associated discrimination versus Africans inside China
  • States Dr Tedros could have saved “a lot of life” if he had acted more like Dr Harlem Brundtland, the WHO chief throughout the Sars outbreak of 2003

Mr Trump, in his summary, alleges that “repeated missteps” by Dr Tedros and the WHO experienced been “particularly high priced for the globe”.

“The only way ahead for the Planet Wellness Organization is if it can truly reveal independence from China,” his letter says.

Mr Trump then calls for the organisation to commit to “significant substantive improvements” inside of thirty times, with no clarifying what this indicates.

Media playback is unsupported on your unit

Media captionMr Trump has regularly criticised China’s early dealing with of the outbreak

With out these improvements, the president states, the US will make his temporary freeze of US funding long term and “rethink our membership in the organisation” entirely.

Mr Trump declared the halting of US payments very last month. The region is the most significant one contributor to the WHO, accounting for just a lot less than 15% of its funding in the past money calendar year.

The president is seeking a 2nd presidential phrase in November, and his assaults on China are seen as element of his re-election system.

Why is the WHO experiencing criticism?

President Trump is not on your own in criticising the WHO’s reaction. The group has been accused of staying too trusting of China, and overly praising the place for its solution to the outbreak as it punished whistleblowers who tried using to raise the alarm.

Just one WHO tweet from January quoted Chinese investigators declaring there was “no distinct proof of human-to-human transmission” of the virus. It launched a statement the pursuing 7 days saying this did in reality seem to be getting put in Wuhan.

The UN company has also been criticised for the time it took to declare coronavirus a world wide wellness unexpected emergency.

Dr Tedros strongly defended the group instructed reporters previously this thirty day period that “failed to waste time”.

On Monday, nonetheless. he agreed to an unbiased assessment of the WHO’s actions.

Impression copyright

Image caption

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has defended the WHO’s actions

These issues have dominated the two-working day Globe Wellbeing Assembly in Geneva – the once-a-year meeting of member states examining the WHO’s perform – which is scheduled to stop on Tuesday.

Also at concern is a resolution which would allow poorer international locations accessibility to any coronavirus vaccines or treatment options that could be designed by personal producers.

President Xi reported on Monday that any vaccine made in China would “be made a international public great”.

The Economical Occasions newspaper reports that the US is scheduling to publicly distance itself from some of the wording in the resolution. It is predicted to go regardless of any US objections.