(Headline USA) The United States will resume funding for the World Health Organization, which had covered for communist China over its release of COVID-19 and its failure to contain it from becoming a worldwide pandemic.
President Joe Biden’s top adviser on the pandemic said Thursday the U.S. would join its consortium aimed at sharing coronavirus vaccines fairly around the globe renewing support for an agency that the Trump administration had pulled back from.
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s quick commitment to the WHO — whose response to the pandemic has been criticized by many, but perhaps most vociferously by the Trump administration — marks a dramatic and vocal shift toward a more cooperative approach to fighting the pandemic.
“I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Fauci told a virtual meeting of the WHO from the United States, where it was 4:10 a.m. in Washington.
Fauci himself has been suspected of protecting the WHO and his own role in what was known initially about the virus’s origins and spread.
Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado said she filed legislation yesterday to hold the WHO and China accountable.
“The WHO is China-centric and panders to Beijing at every turn,” she said in a statement. “There is no reason U.S. taxpayers should contribute more than $400 million annually to an organization that covered for China and failed to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Just hours after Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, he wrote a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres saying the U.S. had reversed the planned pullout from the WHO that was expected to take effect in July.
The withdrawal from the WHO had practical ramifications: The U.S. halted funding for the U.N. health agency — stripping it of cash from the country that has long been its biggest donor just as the agency was battling the health crisis. The U.S. had also pulled back staff from the organization.
Fauci said the Biden administration will resume “regular engagement” with WHO and will “fulfill its financial obligations to the organization.”
The WHO chief and others jumped in to welcome the U.S. announcements.
“This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “The role of the United States, its role, global role is very, very crucial.”
The two men hinted at a warm relationship between them, with Fauci calling Tedros his “dear friend” and Tedros referring to Fauci as “my brother Tony.”
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas had sought an investigation of Tedros in April to “find out just how deeply in China’s pocket he is.”
“He was a cabinet member in Ethiopia when China was investing deeply there and bribing cabinet officials,” he told Fox News at the time. “He has a well-known—and frankly, well-deserved—reputation for corruption that’s gone from Ethiopia now to the WHO.”
Tedros has been widely accused of kowtowing to the Chinese government throughout the Wuhan virus outbreak. Many believe he’s helped wage a propaganda campaign on China’s behalf.
On Jan. 14, 2020, while the city of Wuhan was engulfed in the super-virus, the WHO backed Chinese authorities in saying there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.” The assertion was categorically false.
During a Feb. 24 press conference, Tedros praised “China’s bold approach” to the virus, and said China had “changed the course” of the spread of the disease. That turned out to be false, as well.
During a Feb. 27 press conference Tedros advisor Bruce Aylward said, “If I had COVID-19, I’d want to be treated in China,” at a time when no one knew the real numbers of infections and deaths in the communist-run country of 1.3 billion people.
China lobbied to elect Tedros to head the WHO. Prior to that, he was the health minister for the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, a violent Marxist regime.
According to Amnesty International, the People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front was responsible for torture, political repression and election fraud. As health minister, Tedros helped cover up three cholera outbreaks—all while China was investing in Ethiopia and donating $200 million to the African Union.
Nonetheless John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called Biden’s renewed commitment to the WHO “great news” in an email.
“The world has always been a better place when the U.S. plays a leadership role in solving global health problems including the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio and other diseases,” he said.
Fauci also said Biden will issue a directive Thursday that shows the United States’ intent to join the COVAX Facility, a project to deploy COVID-19 vaccines to people in need around the world — whether in rich or poor countries.
Under Trump, the U.S. had been the highest-profile — and most deep-pocketed — holdout from the COVAX Facility, which has struggled to meet its goals of distributing millions of vaccines both because of financial and logistic difficulties.
WHO and leaders in many developing countries have repeatedly expressed concerns that poorer places could be the last to get COVID-19 vaccines, while noting that leaving vast swaths of the global population unvaccinated puts everyone at risk.
While vowing U.S. support, Fauci also pointed to some key challenges facing WHO. He said the U.S. was committed to “transparency, including those events surrounding the early days of the pandemic.”
One of the Trump administration’s biggest criticisms was that the WHO reacted too slowly to the outbreak in Wuhan, China, and was too accepting of and too effusive about the Chinese government’s response to it. Others have also shared those criticisms — but public health experts and many countries have argued that, while the organization needs reform, it remains vital.
Referring to a WHO-led probe looking for the origins of the coronavirus by a team that is currently in China, Fauci said: “The international investigation should be robust and clear, and we look forward to evaluating it.”
He said the U.S. would work with WHO and partner countries to “strengthen and reform” the agency, without providing specifics.
Congresswoman Boebert was not convinced.
“We must not let the Chinese Communist Party off the hook,” she said. “We must hold the WHO accountable. Joe Biden failed to do either of those things and his edict yesterday only emboldens Beijing. Rejoining the WHO without ensuring accountability for the American people is the wrong move.”
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.