The United States will pay more than $200 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the end of the month, following President Joe Biden’s reversal of a Trump-era decision to exit the organization, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Feb. 17.
“This is a key step forward in fulfilling our financial obligations as a WHO member and it reflects our renewed commitment to ensuring the WHO has the support it needs to lead the global response to the pandemic,” Blinken told a virtual United Nations Security Council session on COVID-19, AFP reported.
“The United States will work as a partner to address global challenges. This pandemic is one of those challenges and gives us an opportunity not only to get through the current crisis, but also to become more prepared and more resilient for the future.”
The United States has been the U.N. agency’s largest funder, regularly pouring hundreds of millions of dollars annually into the organization.
Then-President Donald Trump announced in May 2020 that the United States would formally terminate its relationship with the WHO, with the withdrawal scheduled to go into effect in July 2021. Biden reversed that decision in one of his first acts after taking office.
“We have detailed the reforms that it must take and have engaged with them directly but they have refused to act,” Trump said at the time. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving, urgent global health needs.”
Trump said at the time that Chinese officials failed to report the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, to the WHO and pressured the WHO “to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities.”
On May 18, 2020, Trump outlined a host of questionable steps taken by the WHO in relation to the pandemic in a letter to the head of the organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. They included WHO criticism of Trump’s early travel ban on China and the organization upholding the CCP’s early claims that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus.
Tedros, the WHO director-general, told reporters in May 2020 that he hoped the United States wouldn’t sever its ties with the group.
He called America “a longstanding and generous friend to WHO,” adding, “We hope it will continue to be so.”
Blinken said that the Biden administration has pressed China to be more forthcoming to a WHO team investigating the origins of the virus.
“All countries must make available all data from the earliest days of any outbreak,” Blinken said.
“And going forward, all countries should participate in a transparent and robust process for preventing and responding to health emergencies so the world learns as much as possible, as soon as possible,” he said, AFP reported.