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Senate Health Committee Chairman: Trump Decision to Break From WHO Is Ill-Timed

Senate Health Committee Chairman: Trump Decision to Break From WHO Is Ill-Timed
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. (Andrew Harnik, AP, Pool)

By    |   Friday, 29 May 2020 07:21 PM

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a prominent Senate veteran and chair of the chamber's health committee, pushed back at President Donald Trump’s decision Friday to pull the United States from the World Health Organization.

In a statement, the powerful Republican declared the decision was ill-timed because the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, The Hill reported.

“Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it,” he said.

Alexander added that withdrawing U.S. funding and membership could hamper WHO’s efforts to coordinate work on a coronavirus vaccine, as well as its work on other viruses that could threaten Americans.

“Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need,” he said, The Hill reported.

“And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”

Trump has been voicing anger at WHO for weeks over what he has portrayed as an inadequate response to the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in China’s Wuhan province late last year. In his White House announcement Friday, he declared Chinese officials “ignored” their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured the organization to mislead the public about an outbreak that has now killed more than 100,000 people in the United States alone.

“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” the president said. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating the relationship.”

The United States is the biggest source of financial support for the WHO and its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organization. Trump said America would be “redirecting” money to “other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”

No specifics were released.

Trump pointed out that the United States kicks in about $450 million to the world body; China provides about $40 million.

But the move to curtail funding has become politically charged.

“In the grip of a global pandemic that has already killed more than 100,000 Americans, severing ties with the World Health Organization serves no logical purpose and makes finding a way out of this public health crisis dramatically more challenging,” said American Medical Association President Patrice Harris, The Hill reported.

“This senseless action will have significant, harmful repercussions now and far beyond this perilous moment, particularly as the WHO is leading worldwide vaccine development and drug trials to combat the pandemic,” she added.

Democrats have also weighed in against Trump's plans to break off from the health group. They've argued that withdrawing U.S. influence from the WHO would allow China to play a larger role, rather than make the organization less beholden to China, The Hill reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report,

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Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a prominent Senate veteran and chair of the chamber's health committee, pushed back at President Donald Trump's decision Friday to pull the United States from the World Health Organization.In a statement, the powerful Republican declared the...
who, trump, alexander, pandemic
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2020-21-29
Friday, 29 May 2020 07:21 PM
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