Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 14, 2020, in Washington, DC.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump says he will freeze U.S. funding to the World Health Organization, blaming the international body for “mismanaging” the response to the coronavirus pandemic as he faces mounting criticism of his own slow response to the outbreak.

Mr. Trump announced Tuesday that he would withhold between US$400-million and US$500-million worth of payments, in the middle of a health crisis, as he accused the WHO of being too close to China.

The United States is already US$99-million in arrears on its dues, according to a WHO report from last month, owing US$57.8-million for this year and US$41.2-million from previous years. Eighty other countries, including Canada, have paid in full.

Story continues below advertisement

How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada, by province, and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

What are the coronavirus rules in my province? A quick guide to what’s allowed and open, or closed and banned

Coronavirus guide: Updates and essential resources about the COVID-19 pandemic

The move is the latest attack by the President on an international institution. It is also Mr. Trump’s most serious effort to shift blame for the U.S.’s handling of the pandemic – he has previously accused state governors, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats of failing to do enough to stop the virus.

But it also casts a spotlight on the WHO’s relationship with China, which it has praised despite initial Chinese attempts to hide the epidemic and evidence Beijing has under-reported death totals.

“Today, I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” Mr. Trump said in the White House Rose Garden.

He did not indicate what would happen after the review was complete.

The President said the WHO “put political correctness above life-saving measures” in opposing his ban on travel from China. He said the organization caused “delays” in “declaring a public health emergency” because it was helping China hide information on the outbreak’s severity.

“It would have been so easy to be truthful, and so much death has been caused by their mistakes,” Mr. Trump said.

The WHO declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern on Jan. 30. Mr. Trump did not declare a national health emergency until March 13, after weeks of dismissing concerns about COVID-19 as a “hoax” and falsely insisting case numbers were falling. The U.S. now has the most deaths and confirmed cases of any country in the world.

Story continues below advertisement

The President has faced criticism amid revelations that members of his administration warned him of the severity of the epidemic as far back as January. Mr. Trump also initially praised China’s handling of the pandemic, saying in February that the country was “working very, very hard” and getting the virus “more and more under control.”

Mr. Trump’s announcement Tuesday caused alarm that he would make it harder for other countries to deal with coronavirus by cutting off resources at a pivotal moment.

“During the worst public health crisis in a century, halting funding to the World Health Organization is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier,” Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, said in a statement. “Fighting a global pandemic requires international co-operation and reliance on science and data.”

The WHO has taken heat for lauding China’s “transparency” and handling of COVID-19, despite efforts by Chinese authorities to cover it up. For instance, Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who tried to sound the alarm about the outbreak, faced a police interrogation before dying of the disease himself.

U.S. intelligence, in a confidential report to the White House, concluded that China has lied about the number of people who died of the virus, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

The WHO’s leader, however, has argued that his organization is above disputes over countries’ handling of the pandemic.

Story continues below advertisement

“If you don’t want any more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva last week. “If you don’t believe in unity, please prepare for the worst to come.”

The WHO is funded by member states. The U.S., which accounts for roughly 10 per cent of its US$6-billion annual budget, is the largest contributor.

The President has long built his political brand on criticizing international co-operation and organizations. He has, for example, repeatedly accused the World Trade Organization of helping China cheat the U.S. on trade.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article said China is the second-largest contributor to the WHO. This was based on the WHO’s mandatory contributions, not the full budget.

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies