The United States president Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to freeze US funding to the World Health Organization, saying the international group had “missed the call” on the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump also played down the release of January memos from a senior adviser that represented an early warning of a possible coronavirus pandemic, saying he had not seen them at the time.
But he turned his anger on the WHO, first declaring that he would cut off US funding for the organization, then backtracking and saying he would “strongly consider” such a move, the AP reports.
Trump said the international group had “called it wrong” on the virus and that the organization was “very China-centric” in its approach, suggesting that the WHO had gone along with Beijing’s efforts months ago to minimize the severity of the outbreak.
The WHO has praised China for its transparency on the virus, even though there has been reason to believe that more people died of COVID-19 than the country’s official tally.
“They should have known and they probably did know,” Trump said of WHO officials.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has voiced skepticism toward many international organizations and has repeatedly heaped scorn on the WHO.
As for the memos from Peter Navarro, Trump said he was not aware of them back in January but that he unilaterally followed some of their recommendations, including taking steps to curtail travel from China. But he said he wouldn’t have wanted to act prematurely when it was not clear how dire the situation would become.
“I don’t want to create havoc and shock and everything else. I’m not going to go out and start screaming,” Trump said.
’This could happen, this could happen…I’m a cheerleader for this country.”