US President Donald Trump wrote a letter to World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, accusing the global health body of taking China’s side during the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter was tweeted by Trump on Tuesday morning. In the letter, Trump said that the WHO consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier. “The WHO failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts, even those that came from sources within Wuhan itself,” he said in the letter.
He further said that the WHO knew about a major public health concern in Wuhan by December 30, 2019, which was also communicated by Taiwanese authorities. “But the WHO chose not to share any of this critical information with the rest of the world, probably for political reasons.”
Trump also said that even after declaring Covid-19 outbreak, the WHO failed to press China for the timely admittance of a team of international medical experts.
He then attacked the WHO chief in the letter. “Just a few year ago, under the direction of a different Director-General, the WHO showed the world how much it has to offer.”
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organisation in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump said in the concluding para of the letter. “The only way forward for the WHO is if it can can actually demonstrate independence from China.”
Trump has also threatened to permanently stop funding of the WHO and reconsider membership of the United States in the body. “If the WHO does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization,” Trump told WHO chief Tedros in the letter.
Speaking to the reporters at the White House earlier, Trump called the UN health body a ‘puppet’ of China.
“They (WHO) are a puppet of China. They’re China-centric, to put it nicer. But they’re a puppet of China,” Trump said.
“I think they have done a very sad job. The United States pays them US $450 million a year. China pays them US $38 million a year,” Trump said in response to a question.
Trump claimed that more people would have died from coronavirus in the country had he not imposed a ban on travel from China, which was ‘opposed’ by the health agency.
Washington is locked in an increasingly bitter spat with Beijing over the new coronavirus pandemic and has also taken aim at the WHO, which on Monday kicked off its first ever virtual assembly.
A resolution tabled by the European Union called for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the international response to the pandemic, which has so far infected nearly 4.8 million people and killed more than 3,17,000.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged there had been shortcomings and told the virtual assembly he welcomed calls for a review.