US President Donald Trump has sent a letter to the head of the World Health Organization, threatening to pull US funding permanently over poor handling of Covid-19.
The letter, a copy of which was shared on his tweet handle on Monday May 18, 2020, contained a 30-day deadline for the body to commit to substantive improvements or risk losing millions and US membership altogether.
Mr Trump, who is making frantic efforts to redeem his image, following accusations that his administration has failed in the management of Covid-19, has criticized stages of the body’s response since December.
The president, who also faces re-election this year, has been shifting blames on China for trying to cover up the outbreak and has accused the WHO of failing to hold Beijing to account.
China, has however, repeatedly denied the allegations, arguing that the country had released information in an open, transparent, responsible and timely manner.
On Monday, Dr Tedros backed a review of the agency’s handling of the pandemic. He said an independent evaluation would take place at the earliest appropriate moment.
Health Secretary Alex Azar spoke at the WHO’s World Health Assembly and accused the organization of letting Covid-19 spin out of control at the cost of many lives.
While criticizing WHO of having an “alarming lack of independence” from China, Mr Trump accused the agency of consistently ignoring what he describes as “credible reports” of the virus spreading in Wuhan at the start of December or even earlier.
He has also repeatedly accused China of failings in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, Beijing has denied the allegation, stressing that it has all along been in good communication and co-operation with the WHO and has never attempted to manipulate the organisation.
Trump also cited in his letter that the WHO delayed an emergency declaration under pressure from President Xi Jinping
He criticized the agency’s praise of China’s “transparency” amid reports of censorship and lack of international co-operation.
“Repeated missteps by Dr Tedros and the WHO have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump stated.
“The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.
“I hereby call for the organization to commit to major substantive improvements within 30 days, without clarifying what this means,” he added.
“Without these changes, the US will make its temporary freeze of funding permanently and reconsider membership in the organisation altogether,” he concluded.