President Trump announced Tuesday he was cutting off payments to the World Health Organization for now, accusing the United Nations health agency of promoting Chinese "misinformation" about the coronavirus. Public health experts are lashing out at the US president, with some saying Trump is trying to deflect attention from his own lack of timely response to the virus outbreak, per Time. One big name in the science world has particularly harsh words. "President Trump's decision to defund WHO is simply this—a crime against humanity," Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the Lancet medical journal, posted online. "Every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity." More reaction from other corners:
- "Now is a time for unity in the global battle to push the COVID-19 pandemic into reverse, not a time to cut the resources of the ... WHO, which is spearheading and coordinating the global body's efforts," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says in a statement, per Axios.
- Germany's foreign minister also laments the US move, noting that boosting the WHO during this time is a solid investment, Reuters reports. "Apportioning blame doesn't help," Heiko Maas posted on Twitter, calling the WHO "underfunded." "The virus knows no borders."
- Russia is also joining in the chorus of decrying Trump's decision, with its deputy foreign minister telling the US to back off. "We are calling on the US to refrain from further attacks on the WHO and pursue a responsible policy, which would not ruin the basis of international cooperation in the medical and biological field, but on the contrary would enhance this cooperation and create a basis for its further development," Sergei Ryabkov says, per TASS news agency, via CBS News.
- Bill Gates, who recently penned an op-ed on the subject of the virus, is also weighing in. "Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds," he tweeted early Wednesday. "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."
- At least one global health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations concedes the WHO wasn't on top of its game regarding the virus. "The WHO could have been more diligent in determining the nature of the outbreak and how serious the problem was," Dr. Yanzhong Huang says, per Time.
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