Anyone who has objectively watched the development of the new coronavirus pandemic over the past several months would likely agree that the World Health Organization (WHO), on multiple occasions, dropped the ball in terms of warning the rest of the world about the deadly viral contagion that originated in China before spreading around the globe.
President Donald Trump certainly noticed the WHO’s failures regarding the new coronavirus and blasted the entity on Tuesday while also warning that U.S. taxpayer dollars — which make up a substantial portion of the WHO’s funding — could be withheld as a result, The Daily Caller reported.
Trump warns WHO
The president first placed the WHO on notice with a tweet posted on Tuesday morning, and he later expounded upon why he was strongly considering cutting off funding for the organization during the daily White House coronavirus task force briefing later in the day.
Trump tweeted, “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. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”
The president raised a valid point — for all the talk among journalists that he supposedly downplayed the seriousness of the public health crisis and delayed in developing a response, Trump actually formed the coronavirus task force and restricted travel from China in January while the WHO, and some in the media, were actually the ones minimizing the threat and criticizing the travel ban as racist and unnecessary.
“Wrong about a lot of things”
During the daily briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Trump said, “The WHO, that’s the World Health Organization, receives vast amounts of money from the United States. And we pay for a majority — biggest portion of their money. And they actually criticized and disagreed with my travel ban at the time I did it. And they were wrong.
“They’ve been wrong about a lot of things,” he continued. “And they had a lot of information early and they didn’t want to — they’re very — they seem to be very China-centric. And we have to look into that. So we’re going to look into it.”
The president noted that aside from money given directly to the WHO, the U.S. also provides funding for a number of programs affiliated with the organization — some especially good and useful, others not so much — that all needed to be scrutinized after the WHO had “called it wrong.” He added, “They really — they missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known, and they should have known. And they probably did know, so we’ll be looking into that very carefully.”
Threatens funding freeze
“And we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it, and we’re going to see. It’s a great thing if it works, but when they call every shot wrong, that’s no good,” the president said.
Later in the briefing, when asked about putting a “hold” on funding for the WHO, President Trump seemed to walk back his initial certainty in that regard, but not before reiterating, “They said there’s no big deal, there’s no big problem, there’s no nothing. And then, ultimately, when I closed it down, they actually said that I made a mistake in closing it down. And it was — it turned out to be right. But at the time they — you know, they did that.”
Pressed about whether it was wise to freeze funding for the WHO in the middle of a global pandemic, Trump clarified, “No, maybe not. I mean, I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’re going to look at it.” He added a moment later, “I said we’re going to look at it. We’re going to investigate it. We’re going to look at it. But we will look at ending funding.”
President Trump is absolutely right that the WHO failed in many respects concerning the new coronavirus, and while the present moment may not be the best time to end funding, the warning was certainly justified, and such a move should seriously be considered once this particular crisis has been adequately addressed.