News and Commentary

United States Will Withdraw From The World Health Organization
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus leaves a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus at WHO headquarters in Geneva on July 3, 2020. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Effective July 6, 2021, the United States will no longer be a member nation of the World Health Organization, the White House announced Tuesday, ending the U.S.’s involvement in the global group, which President Donald Trump has claimed conspired with China to hide the true extent of the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States submitted its withdrawal to the United Nations Secretary-General on Tuesday, according to The Hill, and the White House informed Congress of its intent to drop participation in the WHO early Tuesday morning.

The World Health Organization, concerned that a break might be coming, was adamant Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over and warned member nations to stay the course, participating wholly in the WHO’s global efforts at pandemic containment.

The pandemic is “accelerating, and we have clearly not reached the peak of the pandemic,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a briefing. “More than six months in, the case for national unity and global solidarity is undeniable. We cannot afford any divisions.”

The United States, however, has been reconsidering its membership in the WHO since early February, when suspicions arose among Trump administration officials that WHO administrations may have conspired with Chinese officials to hide the origin of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and may have helped the Chinese government conceal the extent of the pandemic within that country’s borders.

Later reports also seem to indicate that the WHO deliberately recast the novel coronavirus as largely harmless, tweeting in January that there was no proof the virus could be transmitted from human to human, although it was clear from the Chinese experience that the virus was highly contagious. In February, Dr. Ghebreyesus claimed that “the spread [of coronavirus] to other countries is minimal and slow,” and that Chinese efforts to contain the virus had been successful.

In recent days, Fox News reports, the WHO has been furiously recasting its narrative about the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, even going so far as to alter its official timeline on the matter, claiming now that it learned of the coronavirus from the Internet and not from health officials in Wuhan, where the global pandemic began.

The White House announced in April that it was looking to pull funding from the WHO, pending an investigation into the body’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The move triggered panic within the WHO’s ranks, particularly given that the United States supplies a significant percentage — more than $400 million — of the group’s operating budget. At one point, members of the WHO accused Taiwan of orchestrating an uprising among member nations based on racism — a claim Taiwan quickly and forcefully disputed.

In late May, the U.S. officially announced that it would cut ties with the WHO but did not set a timeline for withdrawal.

Tuesday’s announcement fulfills the Trump administration’s threat.

Democrats quickly fired back at the administration. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) tweeted that “to call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the withdrawal from WHO would take place next Monday. It will actually take place July 6, 2021.

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