WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus fired back at President Trump on Wednesday - warning world leaders not to politicize the response to COVID-19 lest it result in "many more body bags.
.@WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesuson attacks Trump for noting the org bends over backwards to protect China: “Stop pointing fingers” unless you “want more body bags … it’s like playing with fire” pic.twitter.com/mTwFPqpBdE— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) April 8, 2020
"No time to waste. Let’s focus on saving lives. Collaboration across party lines important to ensure national unity to fight the virus more effectively," Tedros tweeted in a Wednesday follow-up.
No time to waste. Let’s focus on saving lives. Collaboration across party lines important to ensure national unity to fight the virus more effectively. National unity is a foundation for global solidarity. When we do this, we quarantine political covid. Stop politicizing #COVID19— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) April 8, 2020
The comments came in response to a question during a Wednesday WHO press briefing about President Trump's recent comments about putting a "very powerful hold" on US funds supplied to the WHO - a move backed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Notably, the US pays approximately 22% of the WHO's budget - or just under $116 million in 2020, not including voluntary additional contributions (which in 2017, added $401 million to the budget according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation).
"Last year the US paid $452 million to the World Health Organization and China paid $42 million," said President Trump during tonight's press conference, adding that
"The year before it was $500 million and China paid less than $40 million... and they have to get their priorities right, that everyone has to be treated properly... as it doesn't seem that way, does it...in the meantime we are holding back as it doesn't seem fair."
Recall that the WHO chastised Trump's late-January travel ban, while also promoting Chinese propaganda that there is no human-to-human transmission of COVID-19.
* * *
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is backing President Trump's decision to reassess US funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) in the next coronavirus appropriations bill unless the organization makes top-down changes to leadership.
"I’m not going to support funding the WHO under its current leadership," Graham told Fox News, adding "They’ve been deceptive, they’ve been slow, and they’ve been Chinese apologists. I don’t think they’re a good investment under the current leadership for the United States, and until they change their behavior and get new leadership, I think it’s in America’s best interest to withhold funding because they have failed miserably when it comes to the coronavirus."
Lindsey Graham says he’s going to take the burden off the President and use his position on the appropriations subcommittee to eliminate any money for the WHO in the next appropriations bill pic.twitter.com/PnxLmcWaYG— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) April 7, 2020
Graham's comments follow President Trump's condemnation of the WHO on Tuesday - when he repeatedly threatened to cut funding to the UN-linked body for being "very biased towards China" as well as 0its terrible response to COVID-19.
"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," said Trump - only to later soften his tone and say he's still considering the move.
The U.S. is the biggest contributor to the WHO's budget in the world. Trump's fiscal 2021 budget request proposed cutting funding $122 million to about $58 million.
The WHO has continually voiced warnings about the dangers of the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in Wuhan, China, last December. The organization declared that the virus's outbreak was a public emergency of international concern in January and then declared it was a pandemic in mid-March.
But the organization said in early February that widespread travel bans were not necessary to prevent the outbreak. Trump on Tuesday accused the WHO of disagreeing with his decision to enforce travel restrictions on incoming flights from China. -The Hill
Last week Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) demanded the resignation of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for "helping Communist China cover up" the coronavirus outbreak which has blanketed the world.