President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he is halting funding to the World Health Organization, pending a review, alleging that the World Health Organization covered up information about the spread of the coronavirus.
"Today I'm instructing my administration to halt funding of the WHO while a review is conducted to assess the WHO's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," Trump said on Tuesday.
The United States is the largest contributor to the WHO, which was formed in 1948 by the United Nations. The United Nations has long been a target of Trump’s.
Trump claimed that the WHO was critical of his decision to “ban” travel from China to the United States in late January. The United States merely restricted travel from non-US citizens in China. US citizens were still permitted to travel to and from China, but those returning to the US from the hard-hit Hubei region were required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
According to the WHO, the United States provides 14.67% of funding to the organization.
On Monday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the General Diretor of the WHO, responded to the organization's relationship with the United States and Trump.
"I have met President Trump a number of times before starting from 2017, and recently, and we had a good conversation two weeks ago," Dr. Tedros said on Monday. "I know that he is supportive. I hope the funding will continue and the relationship we have is very good and we hope that will continue."
As the United States cuts funding to the WHO, the United Kingdom, which is also in the midst of a battle with the virus, is contributing an additional $252 million to the WHO to assist the organization with the virus.
The WHO defended China for its handling of the coronavirus.
"Once again, I would like to thank the Government of the People’s Republic of China for its cooperation and transparency," Dr. Tedros said on January 23. "The government has been successful in isolating and sequencing the virus very quickly, and has shared that genetic sequence with WHO and the international community.
"This outbreak was detected because China had put in place a system specifically to pick up severe lower respiratory infections. It was that system that caught this event."
Trump also defended China’s handling of coronavirus, one day after Dr. Tedros. On January 24, Trump said that “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!"
The WHO also did not recommend travel bans internationally until March 11.
“WHO continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks,” the WHO said as recently as Feb. 29.
The WHO was arguably slow for declaring the virus a "pandemic," as it was not until March 11 when the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.