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“The WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump said Tuesday.
The funding would be halted pending a review “to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” the president added. The review will take 60-90 days, he said.
The WHO publicly reported a cluster of cases on Jan. 4 and has been releasing daily situation reports on the virus since late January. However, Trump said the organization should have taken action earlier, in December, and he accused it of failing to share information in a timely fashion, criticized its "opposition" to travel restrictions he implemented and said it “parroted” inaccurate information from the Chinese government.
The WHO is part of the United Nations and dates back to 1948. The organization is responsible for coordinating and directing international health efforts with its 194 member nations.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that the WHO’s thousands of staffers are “on the front lines, supporting member states and their societies, especially the most vulnerable among them.” He said that he believes the organization “must be supported.”
Guterres said “it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities” and said there would be a time to review the virus’s spread later. However, he said it is not the time for that yet.
“As it is not that time, it is also not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus,” he said.
The United States provides between $400 million and $500 million to the WHO, which is a fifth of the international organization's 2018-19 budget, according to the Associated Press.
“As the organization’s leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability,” Trump said.
There were more than 1.9 million COVID-19 cases worldwide as of Tuesday. More than 594,000 people have died from the virus. In the U.S., there were more than 594,000 cases and 25,000 deaths.