World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that countries should not be “pointing fingers” at the WHO for the numerous mistakes that is has been accused of making in responding to the coronavirus, saying that by doing so, those countries will have “many more body bags.”
Tedros made the remarks in response to a question about President Donald Trump slamming the WHO on Tuesday during the White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing.
The W.H.O., that’s the World Health Organization, receives vast amounts of money from the United States and we pay for a majority — the biggest portion of their money. They actually criticized and disagreed with my travel ban at the time I did it, and they were wrong. They have been wrong about a lot of things. They had a lot of information early, and they did not want to divert [from being] very China-centric.
We have to look into that. So, we’re going to look into it. We pay for the majority of the money that they get. We want to look at the World Health Organization, because they really are — they called it wrong. They called it wrong. They missed the call. They could have called it months earlier, they would have known. And they should have known. And they probably did know.
So we will be looking into that very carefully. And we will put a hold on money spent to the W.H.O. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it, and we’re going to see. It is a great thing if it works, but when they call every shot wrong, that is no good.
Tedros responded by saying, “Please don’t politicize this virus. It exploits the differences you have at the national level. If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it. My short message is, please quarantine politicizing COVID.”
“I know I didn’t address your question directly,” Tedros continued. “I don’t think that’s necessary. We shouldn’t waste time pointing fingers. We need time to unite.”
.@WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesuson attacks Trump for noting the org bends over backwards to protect China: “Stop pointing fingers” unless you “want more body bags … it’s like playing with fire” pic.twitter.com/mTwFPqpBdE
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) April 8, 2020
QUESTION: Thank you. This is for Director General Tedros. I’d like to get your response to President Trump’s threat yesterday to cut funding to WHO, and specifically to the three complaints he had, which were that WHO criticized the travel plan to China and that WHO could have called this earlier and probably did know, he said, and also that WHO was very China centric. Could you respond to each of those?
DR. TEDROS: Please don’t politicize this virus. It exploits the differences you have at the national level. If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. 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. Without unity, we assure you, even any country that may have a better system will be in trouble and more crisis. That’s our message. Unity at the national level. No politicizing. No need to use COVID to score political points. No need. You have many other ways to prove yourselves. This is not the one to use for politics. It’s like playing with fire. So, more than ever before national unity is important if we care about our people. If we care about our citizens. Please work across party lines, across ideology, across beliefs, across any differences for that matter. We need to behave. That’s how we can defeat this virus.
Second, global solidarity is very important. When national unity succeeds, global solidarity will be easier to form. I will tell you a story. This is in the 1960s, 1967 if I am not wrong, when the eradication of smallpox was launched, when the eradication of smallpox was declared. I was two years old, because I was born in 1965. The former USSR and United States came together and agreed to eradicate smallpox, and brought the whole world together with them. Do you remember that it was a Cold War era at that time? During the Cold War, the two nations, the former USSR and United States came together to fight smallpox. It was killing two million people annually, 15 million infections annually. The world could not tolerate that kind of disaster. And even during the Cold War the two powers agreed to fight smallpox together and brought the rest of the world together. Smallpox was eradicated in 10 years from then.
And now, the United States and China should come together and fight this dangerous enemy. They should come together to fight it and the rest of G20 should come together to fight it. And, the rest of the world should come together to fight it. This virus is dangerous. We say that many times. It has the elements of a flu, very contagious, and it has the elements of SARS, fertile. We will have many body bags in front of us if we don’t behave. When there are cracks at national level and global level, that’s when the virus succeeds.
For God’s sake, we have lost more than 60,000 citizens of the world. Even 1% is precious, whether it’s young or old. More than a million cases. What are we doing? Is this not enough? It’s more than enough. Even the death of one person is a disaster when we can prevent it. So, my advice is three things. Please, unity at national level, no using COVID for political points. And then, second, honest solidarity at global level and honest leadership from the U.S. and China, like the Cold War. We have less problems compared to Cold War. Those who have differences should join hands to fight it. And then, the G20 and everybody has to come together. The third, please, if you agree to the two means, please quarantine politicizing COVID. Quarantine politicizing COVID. That’s the way if we want to win.
I know I didn’t address your question directly. I don’t think that’s necessary. We shouldn’t waste time pointing fingers. We need time to unite.