Trump: U.S. will terminate relationship with the World Health Organization in wake of Covid-19 pandemic

Trump: U.S. will terminate relationship with the World Health Organization in wake of Covid-19 pandemic

Coronavirus Fears Grind International Diplomacy to a Halt

President Trump said Friday the U.S. would halt its funding of the World Health Organization and pull out of the agency, accusing it of protecting China as the coronavirus pandemic took off. The move has alarmed health experts, who say the decision will undermine efforts to improve the health of people around the world.

In an address in the Rose Garden, Trump said the WHO had not made reforms that he said would have helped the global health agency stop the coronavirus from spreading around the world.

“We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Trump said. “The world needs answers from China on the virus.”

It’s not immediately clear whether the president can fully withdraw U.S. funding for the WHO without an act of Congress, which typically controls all federal government spending. Democratic lawmakers have argued that doing so would be illegal, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened last month that such a move would be “swiftly challenged.”

The United States has provided roughly 15% of the WHO’s total funding over its current two-year budget period.

The WHO has repeatedly said it was committed to a review of its response, but after the pandemic had ebbed. Last month, Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also said the “postmortem” on the pandemic should wait until the emergency was over.

As the Trump administration’s response to pandemic has come under greater scrutiny, with testing problems and a lack of coordination in deploying necessary supplies, Trump has sought to cast further blame on China and the WHO for failing to snuff out the spread when the virus was centered in China.

During his remarks, Trump alleged, without evidence, that China pressured WHO to mislead the world about the virus. Experts say that if the U.S. leaves the WHO, the influence of China will only grow.

“The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government,” Trump said. “China’s coverup of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives, and over a million lives worldwide.” (That last claim is not true; globally, there have been about 360,000 confirmed deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.)

When Trump earlier this month threatened to yank U.S. funding in a letter, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, would only say during a media briefing that the agency was reviewing it. But he and other officials stressed that the agency had a small budget — about $2.3 billion every year — relative to the impact the agency had and what it was expected to do.

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies program, said the U.S. funding provided the largest proportion of that program’s budget.

“So my concerns today are both for our program and … working on how we improve our funding base for WHO’s core budget,” Ryan said. “Replacing those life-saving funds for front-line health services to some of the most difficult places in the world — we’ll obviously have to work with other partners to ensure those funds can still flow. So this is going to have major implications for delivering essential health services to some of the most vulnerable people in the world and we trust that other donors will if necessary step in to fill that gap.”

 

Whistleblower alleges Trump administration ignored coronavirus warnings

https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-rick-bright-whistleblower-f48cc9c6-8e6e-4662-a127-03e51f323288.html?stream=health-care&utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alerts_healthcare

Whistleblower alleges Trump administration ignored coronavirus ...

Rick Bright, the former director of the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), filed a whistleblower complaint Tuesday alleging that the Department of Health and Human Services failed to take early action to mitigate the threat of the novel coronavirus.

Flashback: Bright said last month he believes he was ousted after clashing with HHS leadership over his attempts to limit the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus.

What’s new: In his complaint, Bright claims he was excluded from an HHS meeting on the coronavirus in late January after he “pressed for urgent access to funding, personnel, and clinical specimens, including viruses” to develop treatments for the coronavirus should it spread outside of Asia.

  • Bright alleges it “became increasingly clear” in late January that “HHS leadership was doing nothing to prepare for the imminent mask shortage.”
  • Bright claims he “resisted efforts to fall into line with the Administration’s directive to promote the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine and to award lucrative contracts for these and other drugs even though they lacked scientific merit and had not received prior scientific vetting.”
  • He adds that “even as HHS leadership began to acknowledge the imminent shortages in critical medical supplies, they failed to recognize the magnitude of the problem, and they failed to take the necessary urgent action.”

The White House declined to comment. HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

 

 

 

Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who Identified Critical Medical Shortages

Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who Identified Critical Medical ...

The president announced the nomination of an inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, who, if confirmed, would replace an acting official whose report embarrassed Mr. Trump.

President Trump moved on Friday night to replace a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services who angered him with a report last month highlighting supply shortages and testing delays at hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

The White House waited until after business hours to announce the nomination of a new inspector general for the department who, if confirmed, would take over for Christi A. Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general who was publicly assailed by the president at a news briefing three weeks ago.

The nomination was the latest effort by Mr. Trump against watchdog offices around his administration that have defied him. In recent weeks, he fired an inspector general involved in the inquiry that led to the president’s impeachment, nominated a White House aide to another key inspector general post overseeing virus relief spending and moved to block still another inspector general from taking over as chairman of a pandemic spending oversight panel.

Mr. Trump has sought to assert more authority over his administration and clear out officials deemed insufficiently loyal in the three months since his Senate impeachment trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress ended in acquittal largely along party lines. While inspectors general are appointed by the president, they are meant to be semiautonomous watchdogs ferreting out waste, fraud and corruption in executive agencies.

The purge has continued unabated even during the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed about 65,000 lives in the United States. Ms. Grimm’s case in effect merged the conflict over Mr. Trump’s response to the outbreak with his determination to sweep out those he perceives to be speaking out against him.

Her report, released last month and based on extensive interviews with hospitals around the country, identified critical shortages of supplies, revealing that hundreds of medical centers were struggling to obtain test kits, protective gear for staff members and ventilators. Mr. Trump was embarrassed by the report at a time he was already under fire for playing down the threat of the virus and not acting quickly enough to ramp up testing and provide equipment to doctors and nurses.

“It’s just wrong,” the president said when asked about the report on April 6. “Did I hear the word ‘inspector general’? Really? It’s wrong. And they’ll talk to you about it. It’s wrong.” He then sought to find out who wrote the report. “Where did he come from, the inspector general? What’s his name? No, what’s his name? What’s his name?”

When the reporter did not know, Mr. Trump insisted. “Well, find me his name,” the president said. “Let me know.” He expressed no interest in the report’s findings except to categorically reject them sight unseen.

After learning that Ms. Grimm had worked during President Barack Obama’s administration, Mr. Trump asserted that the report was politically biased. In fact, Ms. Grimm is not a political appointee but a career official who began working in the inspector general office late in President Bill Clinton’s administration and served under President George W. Bush as well as Mr. Obama. She took over the office in an acting capacity when the previous inspector general stepped down.

Mr. Trump was undaunted and attacked her on Twitter. “Why didn’t the I.G., who spent 8 years with the Obama Administration (Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?), want to talk to the Admirals, Generals, V.P. & others in charge, before doing her report,” he wrote, mischaracterizing the government’s generally praised response the 2009 epidemic that actually killed about 12,000 in the United States. “Another Fake Dossier!”

To take over as inspector general, Mr. Trump on Friday night named Jason C. Weida, an assistant United States attorney in Boston. The White House said in its announcement that he had “overseen numerous complex investigations in health care and other sectors.” He must be confirmed by the Senate before assuming the position.

Among several other nominations announced on Friday was the president’s choice for a new ambassador to Ukraine, filling a position last occupied by Marie L. Yovanovitch.

Ms. Yovanovitch was ousted a year ago because she was seen as an obstacle by the president’s advisers as they tried to pressure the government in Kyiv to incriminate Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals. That effort to solicit political benefit from Ukraine, while withholding security aid, led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment largely along party lines in December.

Mr. Trump selected Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, a retired 40-year Army officer now serving as the director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany. Mr. Dayton speaks Russian and served as defense attaché in Moscow. More recently, he served as a senior United States defense adviser in Ukraine appointed by Jim Mattis, Mr. Trump’s first defense secretary.