Bill Gates slammed President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold $500million in funding to the World Health Organization, saying it’s ‘as dangerous as it sounds’.
The tech magnate, worth $104billion, tweeted Wednesday saying the US’ involvement with the WHO is more necessary than ever.
‘Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds,’ he tweeted 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,’ he added.
On Tuesday night Trump announced he would halt funding to the WHO immediately for ‘its role in severely mismanaging the spread of coronavirus’ and would launch an investigation into their mishandling of the pandemic.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is slamming President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold funding to the World Health Organization saying it’s ‘as dangerous as it sounds’
‘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,’ he tweeted Wednesday
Trump claims the group failed to investigate early signs of the virus’ ability to spread from one human to another and failed to call out China for its lack of transparency over the virus.
The United States funds $400 million to $500 million to the WHO each year – roughly 15 percent of the organization’s entire budget.
The WHO first declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern in late January.
One week later the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged up to $100million to help contain the pandemic and help find a vaccine for the virus and limit its spread.
Of that pledge, $20million went to groups including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
Today there are over 615,000 cases of the virus in the US and over 26,000 deaths.
Trump claims the WHO failed to investigate early signs of the virus’ ability to spread from one human to another and failed to call out China for its lack of transparency over the virus. Pictured in the Rose Garden of the White House on Tuesday announcing the halt in WHO funding
A graph showing top contributors to the WHO in the years 2018 and 2019 and the total amount paid in both those years, according to the organisation’s own data
The coronavirus pandemic is believed to have been started at one of the wet markets (pictured) in Wuhan, China
Gates has been outspoken throughout the outbreak.
In March he urged the public to practice social distancing and pleaded for Trump to implement a country-wide shutdown as he predicted that COVID-19 cases would peak in late April.
Trump’s shocking decision to halt WHO funding comes after he repeated butted heads with the international organization’s leadership.
‘Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,’ Trump said.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Trump last week to not to ‘politicize’ the virus.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Trump last week to not to ‘politicize’ the virus
American Medical Association president Dr. Patrice Harris said Tuesday ‘halting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating Covid-19 easier’
‘If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it. My short message is: Please quarantine politicizing Covid. The unity of your country will be very important to defeat this dangerous virus,’ he said last week.
Trump said the US pays the WHO significantly more in funds than its counterpart China does, which pays about $40million a year.
The American Medical Association has also branded the president as ‘dangerous’ for his move to cut ties with the WHO.
‘During the worst public health crisis in a century, halting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating Covid-19 easier,’ president Dr. Patrice Harris said in a statement Tuesday.
Following Trump’s decision, China has warned it has ‘serious concerns’.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for Beijing’s foreign ministry, said the global battle against the pandemic is at a ‘critical moment’ and that suspending funding will ‘undermine international cooperation against the epidemic.’
Yesterday Trump praised his own decision to limit travel to and from China on January 31 – a month after the first cases of the disease were reported.
‘Other nations and regions who followed WHO guidelines and kept their borders open to China, accelerated the pandemic all around the world,’ he said.
‘The decision of other major countries to keep travel open was one of the great tragedies and missed opportunities from the early days. The WHO’s attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above lifesaving measures.’
Trump has suggested the WHO had been doing the bidding of China, where the coronavirus outbreak began before spreading to the United States.
The US is the largest single contributor to the WHO, paying in some $893million between 2018 and 2019.
By comparison the UK – the third-largest contributor to the WHO overall and the second largest among nation states – paid in some $435million between 2018 and 2019.
On Tuesday, Downing Street said it has no intention of following Trump’s example and withholding funds to the WHO, saying it ‘has an important role to play in leading the global health response.’
‘Coronavirus is a global challenge and it’s essential that countries work together to tackle this shared threat,’ Boris Johnson’s official spokesman added.
How the man running World Health Organisation trashed by Trump as China-centric is a career politician who worked for a Communist junta and became WHO’s first NON-doctor Director-General ‘following intense lobbying from Beijing’
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a little-known figure before the coronavirus pandemic, has since risen to prominence as Director-General of the World Health Organisation which is leading global responses to the virus.
Dr Tedros – who has never practiced as a medical doctor – is a career politician who was born in what is now Eritrea, began work under the Communist Derg junta, studied in the UK, then rose to the top of Ethiopia’s government first as Health Minister and then Foreign Minister before being elected to lead the WHO in 2017.
He is now facing heavy criticism over his handling of the pandemic, especially for praise he heaped on China’s communist party for its response – hailing the regime’s ‘commitment to transparency’ and saying the speed with which it detected the virus was ‘beyond words’.
That has led to allegations – loudly made by Donald Trump – that the WHO is ‘China-centric’, a position that the US President has promised to ‘look into’.
Trump has now suspended US funding to the WHO until an investigation has been carried out, while suggesting that they withheld information on the virus.
Indeed, it is not the first time that Dr Tedros has been accused of cozying up to China. Shortly after his election victory in 2017, it was alleged that Chinese diplomats had been heavily involved in lobbying for him.
UN records also show that Chinese contributions to both Ethiopia’s aid budget and the WHO have substantially increased during times when he was in top leadership positions.
Shortly after his election to the WHO, a report in The Times said: ‘Chinese diplomats had campaigned hard for the Ethiopian, using Beijing’s financial clout and opaque aid budget to build support for him among developing countries.’
Dr Tedros – who is married and has five children – was born in 1965 in Asmara, which was part of Ethiopia at the time but is now in Eritrea.
As a child he saw his younger brother die to an infection, which he believes was measles, which he later said spurred his determination to work on health and health policy.
He graduated from university in Ethiopia in 1986 with a degree in biology and went to work as a health official in the regime of Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, while the country was ruled by the Derg military junta.
According to the BBC, Dr Tedros then joined the hard-left TPLF – which started life as a Communist party and played a major role in overthrowing Mariam in 1991. It later became part of the EPRDF, a coalition of left-wing parties that ruled Ethiopia until last year.
Around the same time as Mariam’s ouster, Dr Tedros left Ethiopia and went to the UK where he studied at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, graduating with Masters of Science in Immunology of Infectious Diseases in 1992.
He then went on to study at the University of Nottingham, where he received a PhD in community health in 2000.
After this, he returned to Ethiopia where he joined the health ministry and rose through the ranks from regional health minister all the way to national Minister for Heath – a position he took up in 2005.
During his tenure, which lasted until 2012, he was widely praised for opening thousands of health centres, employing tens of thousands of medics, bringing down rates of HIV/AIDS, measles and malaria, as well as bringing information technology and the internet into the heath system.
In November 2012 he was promoted to Foreign Minister, and was widely hailed for helping to negotiate a boost in UN funding for Ethiopia, including as part of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
Indeed, UN funding records show that around this time the country received millions in additional funding – including from China, which had previously given little or nothing to support the country.
In 2015 and 2016 China gave some $16million to Ethiopia in spending commitments and cash contributions, largely in support of food or refugee programs.
In 2011, just before Dr Tedros took up the role, and in 2017, just after he left, China handed over another $44million in commitments and contributions.
Its total contributions outside of this period, dating back to the year 2000, were just $345,000.
In 2017, Dr Tedros left the Ethiopian government and entered the running for Director-General of the WHO as the tenure of Dr Margaret Chan, a Canadian-Chinese physician, was coming to an end.
The election was the first to take place under a system of polling all UN member states as part of a secret ballot. Previously, leaders were chosen by a closed-door vote of an executive committee.
Eventually the field was boiled down to two candidates – Dr Tedros and Briton Dr David Nabarro, a life-long physician who had helped lead UN responses to previous outbreaks including bird flu, the cholera outbreak in Haiti, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Dr Tedros won the ballot by a reported 133 votes to 50, becoming the first African leader of the WHO and the first non-medic to hold the role. His victory came in part thanks to 50 out of 54 African states voting for him.
However, he quickly mired himself in controversy by recommending African dictator Robert Mugabe as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador, amid allegations he was trying to repay favors granted during the election.
There were reports that the move was also intended to reward China, a long-time supporter of Mugabe, for using its influence to have him elected.
The Times added: ‘China has praised the authoritarian development model of Ethiopia’s regime, which rules under emergency powers and has put down pro-democracy protests.’
During the 2017 election itself, several groups within Ethiopia opposed Dr Tedros’s appointment due to his links with the TPLF and allegations that they stifled journalists and repressed minorities.
Dr Tedros was also accused of covering up three separate cholera outbreaks in 2006, 2008 and 2011 by mis-reporting it as ‘watery diarrhea’, allegations he dismissed as a ‘smear campaign’ by his British rival.
Following his election to the WHO, Dr Tedros vowed to reform the organization by placing an emphasis on universal healthcare at its center while also increasing funding.
Further UN funding records show that, during his tenure, assessed contributions to the WHO by China have also risen significantly – from roughly $23million in 2016 to $38million in 2019.
China has also committed to a further $57million in funding in 2020, though has yet to pay the balance.
Meanwhile funding from other major world economies – including the US, Russia, Japan and Germany – has remained largely flat or even fallen over the same period.
Assessed contributions make up only around a quarter of the WHO’s budget, the rest of which comes from donations.
No human-to-human transmission, no travel bans, but lots of praise for China: WHO’s reaction to coronavirus
December 31 – China first reports a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan to the WHO
January 4 – WHO tweets about ‘a cluster of pneumonia cases’ in Wuhan with no deaths, saying investigations into the cause are underway
January 5 – The WHO issues its first guidance on ‘pneumonia of unknown cause’, saying there are a total of 44 patients and 11 in severe condition. Main symptom is listed as fever, with ‘a few patients having difficulty breathing’. The WHO says there is ‘no evidence of human-to-human transmission’ and that ‘no health care worker infections have been reported’
January 7 – China says it has identified the cause of the pneumonia as a ‘novel coronavirus’, initially named 2019-nCoV by the WHO
January 9 – The WHO praises China for identifying the new virus ‘in a short space of time’ and repeats its assessment that the virus ‘does not transmit readily between people’. It also advises against travel or trade restrictions on China
January 13 – WHO says it is now working with authorities in Thailand after reports of a case there, and may call a meeting of the Emergency Committee
January 14 – The WHO tweets saying there is ‘no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission in China’, though later clarifies and says there may have been limited transmission via family members
Jan 20-21 – WHO’s field team in China conducts a brief field visit to epicentre Wuhan
Jan 21 – The first case is confirmed on US soil in Washington, in a person who had travelled from China a week before
Jan 22 – A report from the WHO team sent to Wuhan notes ‘human-to-human’ transmission is taking place, but says more research is needed to assess ‘the full extent’. The report notes confirmed infections in 16 medics, a clear sign of transmission from patients
The team recommends avoiding large gatherings, isolating infected people, and a focus on washing hands as the best way to combat the virus’s spread
The same day, that WHO Emergency Committee convenes for the first time. Afterwards, Dr Tedros says he has spoken with the Chinese Minister for Health, and praises the government for its ‘invaluable’ efforts to halt the virus. He calls a second meeting for the following day
Jan 23 – With the Emergency Committee split, Dr Tedros says he has decided not to declare the virus a public health emergency of international concern. Referencing the lockdown of Wuhan, which was announced the same day, he says he hopes ‘it will be effective and short in duration’. He praises China’s ‘cooperation and transparency’ in tackling the virus
Dr Tedros says there is limited evidence of human-to-human transmission, mostly among families or doctors treating the virus. At this point, there are 584 confirmed cases and 17 deaths globally, including in Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and the US
He recommends screening at airports and tells countries to put testing facilities in place, but stops short of recommending a travel ban
Jan 28 – Dr Tedros and other senior WHO officials meet Xi Jinping in China, agreeing that a panel of experts should be sent to monitor the outbreak. He praises ‘the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership and the transparency they have demonstrated’
Jan 29 – Dr Tedros gives a speech praising China’s efforts to contain the virus, saying the country ‘deserves our gratitude and respect’ for locking down swathes of the country to prevent the spread.
He notes a few cases of human-to-human spread outside China, which he says ‘is of grave concern’ and will be monitored closely
Jan 30 – The WHO Emergency Committee reconvenes early and declares a public health emergency of international concern. It comes after confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the US
Dr Tedros again praises China for ‘setting a new standard for outbreak response’ with its lockdowns, and says the small number of cases outside the country – 98 – is ‘thanks to their efforts’
Despite noting that a majority of cases outside China have a history of travel to or from Wuhan, he again recommends no measures to curb international travel or trade
Jan 31 – Donald Trump announces travel restrictions on people coming from China
Feb 3 – Dr Tedros gives a speech to the WHO updating on coronavirus, saying there are 17,238 cases in China and 361 deaths – now though to be an under-estimate
He praises Xi Jinping for his individual leadership, and insists that cases outside China ‘can be managed’ if world authorities work together and follow recommendations which include – no ban on travel or trade, supporting countries with weak health systems, investment in vaccines and diagnosis, combating disinformation and urgent reviews of emergency preparedness
Feb 7 – Dr Li Wenliang, a doctor who first reported the existence of coronavirus and was initially silenced by China, dies from the virus
Feb 10 – The WHO’s team of experts arrives in China to assist with the outbreak
Feb 11 – The WHO names the disease caused by the virus COVID-19, saying it avoided including a geographical name because it risks ‘stigmatizing’ people. It says it will not be using the name SARS-CoV-2 because it risks causing ‘unnecessary fear’ by linking it to the 2003 SARS outbreak
Feb 12 – Dr Tedros says the number of new cases being reported in China has ‘stabilised’ but adds that it must be ‘interpreted with extreme caution’ and the outbreak ‘could still go in any direction’
Feb 16-24 – WHO team of experts convenes in China, visiting affected sites and sharing information on the best ways to tackle the crisis
Feb 17 – Dr Tedros begins chairing daily updates on the coronavirus response, with each briefing beginning with an update on the number of infections including from China, which are repeated without caveats
He give an analysis of Chinese data on some 44,000 confirmed cases. He says the data shows that 80 per cent of cases are mild, 14 per cent lead to severe disease, and 2 per cent are fatal. The disease is more severe in older people, with the young largely spared.
He urges world leaders not to ‘squander’ a window of opportunity to get ahead of the virus and prevent it from spreading
Feb 26 – Donald Trump announces a dedicated coronavirus response team, which Mike Pence will lead
Feb 28 – The team of WHO experts delivers its first report on the coronavirus. Among its major findings are that the disease likely came from bats, that it is spread through close contact with infected people and not through the air, and that most common symptoms include fever, dry cough and fatigue
The report praises China’s response as ‘perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history’ saying lockdowns were achieved ‘due to the deep commitment of the Chinese people to collective action’ and had achieved a rapid decline in cases
Mar 9 – The whole of Italy is placed on lockdown as the virus spreads, the first European nation to enter total lockdown
Mar 11 – The WHO declares coronavirus a pandemic, meaning it is spreading out of control in multiple locations around the world. At this point, cases have been reported in more than 100 countries
Mar 13 – WHO says Europe is now the new epicentre of the virus after cases increase steeply, with Dr Tedros noting ‘more cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic’
Mar 19 – China reports no new domestic infections from coronavirus since the pandemic began
Mar 20 – Dr Tedros issues a warning that ‘young people are not invincible’ to the virus after data from outside showed large numbers of people under the age of 50 ending up in intensive care
Mar 25 – As Donald Trump begins touting hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus treatment, WHO warns that no drugs have so far been approved for treating the virus
The same day the organization calls for an extra $2billion in funding to help tackle the virus
Apr 3 – As millions of US citizens sign on for unemployment benefit, Dr Tedros and the IMF call for debt relief and social welfare to help people through the pandemic
Apr 6 – The WHO updates its guidance on masks to say they are effective at stopping spread of the virus, but must be used in conjunction with other methods.
It comes after the CDC updated its guidance to advise people to wear masks in public
Apr 8 – Following Trump’s first barrage of criticism for the WHO, Dr Tedros urges world leaders to ‘stop politicising the pandemic’ unless they want ‘more body bags’
Apr 13 – A group of scientists convened by WHO to research a vaccine for coronavirus issue a joint statement urging world leaders to keep listening to the scientific community when responding to the virus