At a press conference on Monday, President Donald Trump launched into complaints about the World Health Organization (WHO), which he whined was supposedly “China-centric” and claimed had stumbled in their early responses to the virus. The implied notion that Trump himself long took the virus remotely seriously is already clearly ludicrous — he called virus concern a “hoax” in public remarks at the end of February — but the WHO has also now refuted Trump’s idea that they’re “China-centric,” a claim which he used as justification for threatening to withhold U.S. funding from the organization, which is a joint global venture.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, who works as a senior adviser to the WHO Director-General, commented:
‘It was absolutely critical in the early part of this outbreak to have full access to everything possible, to get on the ground and work with the Chinese to understand this. This is what we did with every other hard hit country like Spain and had nothing to do with China specifically.’
Trump had claimed the WHO’s early admonishment against border closures as a supposed example of the organization’s China-centric nature — although, it’s worth noting, his suggestion that they targeted him in particular is flatly incorrect. After Trump implemented his own ban on travel from China, dozens of other countries had already issued some form of travel bans, and the WHO only issued a broad admonishment.
Besides, Trump’s travel ban didn’t even work; tens of thousands of people flew from China to the U.S. after its implementation in addition to the hundreds of thousands who’d flown that same route in the weeks prior, when the virus was already spreading.
400k+ flew from China before the US became the 39th country to impose travel restrictions. 40k+ came after. Since CV was already here and the fact that the US now leads in cases and is 3rd in deaths makes Trump’s claim of early decisive action meaningless. https://t.co/nQj5Bq3thg
— Rick Tyler-Still Right (@rickwtyler) April 7, 2020
Aylward “defended WHO recommendations to keep borders open, saying that China had worked very hard to identify and detect early cases and their contacts and ensure they did not travel in order to contain the outbreak,” Reuters reports.
Originally, Trump had told reporters:
‘They missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known, and they should have known, and they probably did know. We’re going to be looking into that very carefully, and we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it, and we’re going to see. It’s a great thing if it works, but when they call every shot wrong, that’s not good.’
He eventually clarified that his “very powerful hold” didn’t actually exist — actually, he said, the Trump administration would only be considering withdrawing their contributions to the WHO, which in 2019 topped $400 million. This week, the WHO’s Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Kluge insisted that “now is not the time to cut back on funding.”
Kluge also addressed some of other recklessness like that which Trump himself has employed. Some have been prioritizing a return to work and reopening of the economy, which had been largely shuttered amid attempts to use social distancing to stem the Coronavirus spread. Kluge insisted, however, that “we still have a long way to go in the marathon.” Cases continue to rise sharply not just in the U.S. but in European countries like the U.K. as well.