Trump Administration Officially Withdraws U.S. from World Health Organization

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus - Director General, World Health Organization (WHO)
ITU Pictures/Flickr

The Trump administration has formally withdrawn the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO), as the United Nations-backed agency continues to face fierce criticism over its response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, according to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Menendez, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote on Twitter that the Trump administration has pulled out from the WHO.

Menendez wrote:

Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic. To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone.

In May, President Donald Trump announced that the US. would end ties with the WHO, citing the “malfeasance” of China, whom he accused of orchestrating a “coverup” regarding the origins of the coronavirus.

“China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year,” the president noted at the time.

Throughout January, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately,” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.”

But behind the scenes, it was a much different story – one of significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over not getting the information they needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus, The Associated Press has found.

Despite the plaudits, China in fact sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information. Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame, according to dozens of interviews and internal documents.

Chinese government labs only released the genome after another lab published it ahead of authorities on a virologist website on Jan. 11. Even then, China stalled for at least two weeks more on providing WHO with detailed data on patients and cases, according to recordings of internal meetings held by the U.N. health agency through January — all at a time when the outbreak arguably might have been dramatically slowed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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