Daily US Times: US President Donald Trump has threatened the World Health Organization (WHO) to pull US funding permanently over Covid-19. He has sent a letter to the organization’s head, giving a 30-day ultimatum over the handling of the pandemic.
In the letter, Mr Trump outlines a 30-day ultimatum for the body to commit to “substantive improvements” or risk losing millions and US membership altogether.
It was addressed to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and it criticises of the body’s response to the coronavirus since December.
Earlier in the day, Mr Trump called WHO a “puppet of China”.
The president himself been extremely criticised for his handling of the pandemic. He has blamed China for trying to cover up the outbreak and has accused the WHO of failing to hold Beijing to account.
Mr Trump is facing re-election this year.
The US is the worst-hit country in the world with more than 1.5 million confirmed cases and more than 90,000 deaths.
Trump’s ultimatum also comes at a time of pressure for the UN’s health body. Dr Tedros backed a review of the agency’s handling of the pandemic on Monday.
He said an independent evaluation would take place “at the earliest appropriate moment”.
What does the letter say?
On Monday night, Mr Trump published the letter on Twitter, following a day of heavy US criticism of the health agency.
Alex Azar, US Health Secretary, 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”.
The US president accuses in his letter to Dr Tedros that the WHO of having an “alarming lack of independence” from China. He also 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.
Mr Trump cites reports the WHO delayed an emergency declaration under pressure from President Xi Jinping and criticizes the agency’s praise of China’s “transparency” amid reports of censorship and lack of international cooperation.
In the letter, the president accuses the WHO of failing to comment on virus-related racial discrimination allegedly happening within China.
He said Dr Tedros could have saved “many lives” if he had acted more like Dr Harlem Brundtland, the WHO chief during the Sars outbreak.
He also alleges that “repeated missteps” by Dr Tedros and the WHO had been “extremely costly for the world”.
His letter says: “The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.”