President Donald Trump announced Tuesday night that he is halting funding to the World Health Organization while his administration reviews the group’s handling of the coronavirus, accusing it of bungling the response and failing to communicate the disease’s threat.
The move follows weeks of Trump’s escalating attacks on the U.N. health organization as he has sought to deflect scrutiny of his own administration's slow response to the outbreak.
The U.S. contributes more than any other country to WHO, at more than $400 million per year. Cutting off funds to the group, which has a $4.8 billion annual budget, will be a major blow to the organization as it conducts vaccine trials, distributes test kits and advises governments around the world.
"With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible," Trump said during his nightly press briefing.
The move drew swift blowback from the medical community, which said it would undercut global efforts to combat a disease that’s sickened nearly 2 million people worldwide and still has no proven cure or vaccine.
“Fighting a global pandemic requires international cooperation and reliance on science and data,” said Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, who urged the administration to reconsider.