President Trump said as the lead sponsor of the World Health Organization, the United States has a duty to halt funding until there is full accountability for dangerous and costly decisions made by the group. From Tuesday's White House coronavirus task force briefing:
"The silence of the WHO on the disappearance of scientific researchers and doctors and new restrictions on the sharing of research into the origins of COVID-19 in the country of origin is deeply concerning especially when we put up by far the largest amount of money, not even close," Trump said at Tuesday's White House coronavirus task force briefing. "Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China's lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained as a source with very little death, very little death, and certainly very little death by comparison. This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage."
"Instead the WHO willingly took China's assurances to face value, and they took it just at face value and defended the actions of the Chinese government, even praising China for its so-called transparency. I don't think so," Trump added.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I salute the American people for following our guidelines on social distancing, even you people. It's so different looking out there when I look at you. Their devotion, your devotion is saving lives, and today I am instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus. Everybody knows what has gone on there.
American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO, in contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million a year and even less. As the organization's leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability, one of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations. They were very much opposed to what we did, fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China saving untold numbers of lives, thousands and thousands of people would have died.
Had other nations likewise suspended travel from China, countless more lives would have been saved. Instead look at the rest of the world, look at parts of Europe other nations and regions who followed WHO guidelines, and kept their borders open to China accelerated the pandemic all around the world. Many countries said we are going to listen to the WHO and they have problems the likes of which they cannot believe, nobody can believe. The decision of other major countries to keep travel open was one of the great tragedies and missed opportunities from the early days.
The WHO's attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above life-saving measures. Travel bans work for the same reason that quarantines work, pandemics depend on human to human transmission; border control is fundamental to virus control.
Since its establishment in 1948, the American people have generously supported the World Health Organization to provide better health outcomes for the world and, most importantly, to help prevent global health crises. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible. The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.
The world depends on the WHO to work with countries to ensure that accurate information about international health threats is shared in a timely manner and if it is not to independently tell the world the truth about what is happening. The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable. It is time after all of these decades.
The WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government's official accounts. There was credible information to suspect human to human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate and investigate immediately. Through middle of January it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human to human transmission happening despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary.
The delays the WHO experienced in declaring a public health emergency cost valuable time tremendous amounts of time; more time was lost in the delay it took to get a team of international experts and to examine the outbreak which we wanted to do which they should have done. The inability of the WHO to obtain virus samples to this date has deprived the scientific community of essential data. New data that emerges across the world on a daily basis points to the unreliability of the initial reports and the world received all sorts of false information about transmission and mortality.
The silence of the WHO on the disappearance of scientific researchers and doctors and new restrictions on the sharing of research into the origins of COVID-19 in the country of origin is deeply concerning especially when we put up by far the largest amount of money, not even close. Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China's lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained as a source with very little death, very little death, and certainly very little death by comparison. This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage.
Instead the WHO willingly took China's assurances to face value, and they took it just at face value and defended the actions of the Chinese government, even praising China for its so-called transparency. I don't think so. The WHO pushed China's misinformation about the virus, saying it was not communicable, and there was no need for travel bans. They told us when we put on our travel ban a very strong travel ban, there was no need to do it. Don't do it; they actually fought us. The WHO's reliance on China's disclosures likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide, and it may be much more than that.
The WHO has not addressed a single one of these concerns nor provided a serious explanation that acknowledges its own mistakes, of which there were many. America and the world have chosen to rely on the WHO for accurate, timely, and independent information to make important public health recommendations and decisions. If we cannot trust that this is what we will receive from the WHO, our country will be forced to find other ways to work with other nations to achieve public health goals. We will have no choice but to do that.
Our countries are now experiencing--you look all over the world tremendous death and economic devastation because those tasked with protecting us by being truthful and transparent failed to do so. It would have been so easy to be truthful, and so much death has been caused by their mistakes. We will continue to engage with the WHO to see if it can make meaningful reforms. For the time being, we will redirect global health and directly work with others.
All of the aid that we send will be discussed at very, very powerful ladel--letters and--and with very powerful and influential groups and smart groups medically, politically, and every other way, and we will be discussing it with other countries and global health partners. What we do with all of that money that goes to WHO and maybe WHO will reform and maybe they won't, but we'll be able to see.