He’s infantile, narcissistic and foolish to pull funding — but Trump isn’t entirely wrong about the WHO

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Last night, Trump announced that he was ending US funding for the World Health Organisation (WHO). At a time when it’s important to pull together — especially considering that Covid-19 is about to hit developing countries in a very real way — the president has taken action against global cooperation. Many never dreamed that this is how America would respond to a global pandemic, but here we are.

There have been questions about how director-general of the WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, has handled the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-January, the WHO’s Twitter account tweeted that there was “no clear evidence” that Covid-19 could transfer from human to human. Many have worried that the organisation was complacent or too close to China, including Trump; he may be right on that point.

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But Trump’s decision will further stretch what is already close to breaking point. And it’s worth noting that the WHO needs to have close relations with China, because there’s a high possibility new diseases could emerge from there (before the novel coronavirus, think SARS.) It makes sense to maintain a sensible friendship with a country at high risk of producing global disease; the last thing you want is that country withholding information, or refusing to cooperate, in dire circumstances.

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