President Donald Trump is considering putting a "hold" on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization after the agency "blew it" by failing to sound the alarm sooner about the coronavirus.
"I'm not saying I'm going to do it, but we're going to look at it," the president said at the White House coronavirus task force briefing Tuesday.
Congress allocated about $123 million to the WHO in 2020. Earlier in the briefing Trump called the Geneva-based international body "very China-centric." He also said the WHO was wrong to advise against travel restrictions he imposed on China.
"They're always on the side of China, but we fund it," Trump said. "So we want to look into it."
The WHO has urged countries to avoid blanket travel bans to countries experiencing outbreaks because historically such moves have been ineffective.
"They actually criticized and disagreed with my travel ban at the time I did it," Trump said. "And they were wrong. They've been wrong about a lot of things. They had a lot of information early.
"They seem to be very China-centric."
People often book flights through another hub, which can make their movements difficult for authorities to trace. Restrictions can also prevent countries from receiving medical equipment and vital goods.
"They called it wrong," Trump said, adding the U.S. pays for the "vast majority of their money." "They should have known. They probably did know.
"When they call every shot wrong, that's no good."
The WHO has a policy of avoiding public criticism of member countries in order to avoid undercutting their health measures.
Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said Trump was doing a "great job" by using what the president has called a whole-government approach. He also praised Trump for leveraging research and development, engaging with the private sector on things such as medical supplies, expanding testing and educating the public.
Tedros has also repeatedly praised China, even as Beijing was criticized by other countries and organizations for being slow to respond initially to the outbreak there and for resisting cooperation with international disease-trackers.
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