President Donald Trump said he instructed his administration to temporarily halt funding to the World Health Organization for taking China’s claims about the coronavirus “at face value” and failing to share information about the pandemic as it spread.
“The WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump said Tuesday at a White House press conference.
“The outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,” the president said. “So much death has been caused by their mistakes.”
The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has become a pariah among some Trump supporters. They’ve sought to blame the pandemic on the organization as scrutiny of the president’s actions has increased and public approval of his handling of the crisis has fallen. They accuse the WHO and Tedros in particular of being too accommodating to Beijing and of failing to adequately warn the world of the threat posed by the virus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The U.S. has since become the epicenter of the global outbreak, with more than 582,000 reported cases and more than 23,000 deaths.
The U.S. has contributed about $893 million to the WHO’s operations during its current two-year funding cycle, according to the organization. China has given about $86 million over the same period. It’s unclear when Trump’s halt in payments would take effect.