President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced he is halting funding for the World Health Organization pending a review of its response to the initial coronavirus outbreak after the organization criticized his travel restrictions to China.
Trump accused the WHO of "severely mismanaging and covering up" the coronavirus crisis, specifically the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China. He took particular issue with the agency criticizing his China travel ban in early February when the Asian country was the epicenter of the pandemic.
“With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns about whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible," Trump said. "The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain and share information in a timely and transparent fashion."
"It could have been contained at its source," Trump added.
Trump's move to halt funding to the agency that oversees international public health has raised questions about whether it could affect efforts by various countries to curtail coronavirus cases.
Trump claimed that WHO "pushed China's misinformation about the virus...and there was no need for travel bans."
The organization was informed of the first cases on Dec. 31, 2019, and the next day the agency requested information from Chinese officials and the Wuhan market where the outbreak is believed to have originated was closed for disinfection, according to a WHO report. Then on Jan. 30, the organization declared a global health emergency when the number of cases at the time hit 10,000.
Trump complained about the WHO being “China-centric” and said that the country sends $500 million a year to the organization. The U.S. is the largest contributor to the WHO out of 196 countries, accounting for roughly 15 percent of the agency's budget. It spent $57.8 million earlier this year and also contributes additional money to special projects.
The president previously said that he would be looking into cutting funding “very carefully" and that he’s only looking into it. But, at Tuesday’s briefing, he said the WHO “failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable.”
“The WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government's official accounts,” Trump said.
"Well we're going to be dealing with countries," Trump said, adding that he's going to "channel" that money to places that need it.