U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that his administration is halting the nation’s funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), a move experts have warned against, as COVID-19 continues to take a toll globally.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump also said a review is being conducted to assess the WHO’s role in addressing the spread of the coronavirus.
The announcement came as Trump is aggressively defending his own handling of the outbreak in the United States after the administration has been scrutinized for downplaying the threat from the coronavirus early on and faulted for delays in testing.
The tone also differed from one of his tweets on Feb. 24, several days before the United States reported the first death from COVID-19.
“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump wrote at that time.
“We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart.”
Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, called cutting funding to the WHO during a global health crisis “disgraceful,” warning that it would cause death and even blow back on the United States.
“How shortsighted when global coop needed more now than ever,” Gostin said in a series of tweets on Tuesday.
In remarks delivered from Geneva last week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “We must quarantine politicizing this virus at national and global levels.”
“We have to work together, and we have no time to waste,” he added.
According to a tally from Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday, the United States has reported more than 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 25,575 deaths, both the highest on record.
Globally, the number of cases is approaching 2 million, as the death toll has surpassed 125,000, the tally showed.