The United States is "going to put a very powerful hold” on money it sends to the World Health Organization, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, blaming the United Nations humanitarian entity of missing the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"They called it wrong. They missed the call,” Trump told reporters at the White House, implying that it may have done so out of deference to China, where the novel coronavirus was first reported.
"They seem to be very China-centric,” the president said. "We have to look into that.”
The United States is the largest contributor to the WHO.
When asked by a reporter whether it would be prudent to strangle funding to the organization amid a pandemic, the president denied he said he was doing that, modifying his remark to "we're going to look at it.”
The WHO did not immediately comment on Trump's remarks.
Hours earlier, U.N. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric rejected general criticism of the WHO, saying it "has done tremendous work on COVID,” including providing global guidelines, assisting governments with training and sending millions of pieces of equipment to help countries respond to the outbreak.
Meanwhile, President Trump is brushing off reports about his administration's internal early warning that the new coronavirus could cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars and kill on a massive scale.
Trump's trade adviser, Peter Navarro, sounded an initial alarm on Jan. 29, when there were already confirmed cases of COVID-19 in more than a dozen countries, with a memo to the National Security Council.
"I didn't see it,” Trump said of Navarro’s memo, describing it as "a recommendation. It was a feeling that he had.”
A subsequent written warning by Navarro to the NSC on Feb. 23 noted a "full blown COVID-19 pandemic” could infect as many as 100 million Americans and kill between 1 million and 2 million, according to White House sources.
"I'm a cheerleader for this country. I don't want to create havoc and shock,” said Trump, indicating that even if he had been aware of the dire predictions at the time he would not have made them public.
Source : VOA