US President Donald Trump lashed out at the World Health Organization, saying that its handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been "wrong," CNBC reports.
It adds that President Trump threatened to withhold US funding from the WHO. "The WHO really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look," President Trump says in a tweet.
According to Reuters, the US contributed about $400 million to the WHO in 2019, and CNBC notes Congress has already authorized $122 million in funding for the WHO for this year. Reuters adds it is unclear how the president would block WHO funding as it is determined by Congress.
The WHO has also defended its pandemic response, CNN reports. At a news conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the steps the agency has taken since January. "Please don't politicize this virus. It exploits the differences you have at the national level," Ghebreyesus added. "If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it."
The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's David Heymann, who led the WHO response to the 2003 SARS outbreak tells Reuters that any cut in US funding to the agency would be "disastrous."
"If the WHO loses its funding it cannot continue to do its work. It works on a shoe-string budget already," he adds.