US President Donald Trump has announced that he would halt the World Health Organization's funding over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York Times reports. It notes that recent polls have indicated the majority of US adults disapprove of how President Trump has handled the public health crisis and that he appears to be trying to shift blame elsewhere.
President Trump threatened last week to cut off WHO funding. He repeated that call Tuesday, saying the international health agency was responsible for "severely mismanaging and covering up" the outbreak, the Times reports. It notes that the biennial budget for the WHO is around $6 billion and, in 2019, the US contributed $553 million.
António Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations, says in a statement that the middle of a pandemic is not the time to reduce the WHO budget. "As I have said before, now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences," he adds.
Bill Gates, whose foundation donates to WHO, also criticized the announcement, the Washington Post reports. "Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds," Gates writes in a tweet. "Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever."