United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday said his government will cut down funding to the World Health Organization, alleging it was biased in favour of China during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, The Guardian reported. However, Trump, who made the remark at the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House, appeared to backtrack almost immediately, claiming that such a move was merely “under consideration”.
“They’ve been wrong about a lot of things,” Trump said initially, referring to WHO’s response to the pandemic. “And they had a lot of information early and they didn’t want to – they seemed to be very China-centric.”
Alleging that WHO did not stay abreast of the spread of the virus, and could have warned the world months in advance, Trump added: “So we’ll be looking into that very carefully 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, it’s not good.”
However, minutes later, when asked by a reporter whether it was proper to suspend funding to WHO in the midst of a pandemic, Trump contradicted himself, claiming he had never announced a cut in funding. “I’m not saying I’m going to do it but we’re going to look at it,” he said.
The WHO declared Covid-19 a public health emergency on January 30, and a pandemic on March 11. Trump declared a national emergency in the United States on March 13, and subsequently most states came under lockdown, which is scheduled to continue till April 30.
In February, the Trump administration had, in its budget, planned to cut funding to WHO from $122.6 million (Rs 930 crore) to $57.9 million (Rs 439.20 crore).
The United States has reported by far the most number of cases of the coronavirus. According to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University, over 3,98,000 people have been infected in America, and more than 12,700 have died. Globally, the number of cases crossed 14,00,000 on Tuesday, and the number of deaths 82,000.