Coronavirus: Trump gives WHO ultimatum over Covid-19 handling

  • May 19, 2020

President of US, Donald Trump, sent a letter to the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) threatening to pull US funding for WHO permanently over COVID-19.

The letter provides a 30-day deadline for WHO to make “substantive improvements” or risk losing millions and US membership altogether.

Trump posted the letter addressed to WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesuson, on his official twitter handle today with the caption, “This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory!” The letter criticises stages of the WHO’s response to COVID-19 since December.

Earlier in the day, Mr Trump called WHO – the UN’s health body a “puppet of China”.

The president, who faces re-election this year and has himself been criticised for his handling of the pandemic, has blamed China for trying to cover up the outbreak and has accused the WHO of failing to hold Beijing to account.

The US has more than 1.5 million of the world’s 4.8 million confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, with more than 90,000 deaths. Trump’s ultimatum also comes at a time of pressure for the WHO.

On Monday Dr Tedros backed a review of the agency’s handling of the pandemic. He said an independent evaluation would take place “at the earliest appropriate moment”.

Mr Trump published the letter on Twitter on Monday night, following a day of heavy US criticism of the health agency.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar earlier spoke at the UN’s World Health Assembly and accused the WHO of letting Covid-19 spin “out of control” at the cost of “many lives”.

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

Among his assertions, Mr Trump accuses the agency of having “consistently ignored” what he describes as “credible reports” of the virus spreading in Wuhan at the start of December or even earlier.

Trump also accuses the WHO of failing to comment on virus-related racial discrimination allegedly happening within China Says Dr Tedros could have saved “many lives” if he had acted more like Dr Harlem Brundtland, the WHO chief during the Sars outbreak.