US President Donald Trump will partially restore funding to the World Health Organization, a month after he ordered a freeze as he accused the Geneva-based body of “mismanaging” the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News reported Friday.
The outlet said a draft letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the US will “agree to pay up to what China pays in assessed contributions” to the health organization. An unnamed senior administration official confirmed to Fox News that the US president has agreed to the plan.
The US was the biggest funder of the WHO, providing it $400 million last year — Fox News said that if the plan goes ahead, the US funding level of the WHO would be around one-tenth of that sum.
Trump ordered the US to freeze funding last month pending a review into the WHO’s role in “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”
He charged, among other things, that the outbreak could have been contained “with very little death” if the WHO had accurately assessed the situation in China, where the disease broke out late last year.
Trump’s decision reflected his belief that the WHO has been biased towards China, colluding to prevent the US’ main economic rival from having to be open about the unfolding health crisis.
Critics have accused Trump of looking for a scapegoat for the dire situation in the United States, which is leading in global cases and deaths from the virus. Trump had dismissed the virus threat for much of the time leading up to the pandemic’s exploding throughout the country.
WHO officials rejected claims that the organization had underestimated the severity of the outbreak, pointing to increasingly urgent warnings about the situation, starting in early January.
As of Saturday morning, the coronavirus had killed more than 307,000 people globally and infected over 4.5 million.
In the United States, the world’s worst-affected country with more than 87,000 deaths, industrial production plunged a record 11.2 percent in April, the largest drop in a century. The US suffered 1,680 virus deaths in the past day, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Trump has sought to deflect from his government’s handling of the pandemic by ramping up his war of words with Beijing over responsibility for what he has dubbed the “Plague from China,” threatening to cut ties between the two countries.
The virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year before spreading worldwide, fueled by air travel and a globalized economy.