Donald Trump’s apparent attempt to scapegoat the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have been rebuffed in a virtual summit of the G7 world’s richest nations.
The day after the US president drew international outrage for suspending funding for the WHO, all other world leaders attending the meeting gave the organisation their support.
Efforts to coordinate international efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic have been jeopardised by the controversy over the Trump administration’s unprecedented move to withdraw funding for the global body tasked with battling the outbreak.
The White House tried to put its best gloss on the outcome of the virtual summit claiming that “much of the conversation centred on the lack of transparency and chronic mismanagement of the pandemic by the WHO. The leaders called for a thorough review and reform process.”
But other world leaders stood by the WHO seeing it as an important part of efforts to coordinate an international response.
The Trump Administration says the WHO was too slow to respond to the outbreak in Wuhan and too ready to praise China’s response, kowtowing to Beijing for political reasons.
There has been frustration with China and the WHO among other western governments and a recognition the international body needs some measure of reform. But there has been universal dismay at President Trump’s decision to cut US funding for the WHO.
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Allies suspect the president is attempting to distract attention from his administration’s failings in dealing with the virus.
President Trump initially called the coronavirus outbreak a hoax and the number of cases in America is rising more steeply than anywhere else in the world.
Western diplomats concede America’s allies have been blindsided by the president’s decision and say it is not at all clear what kind of reforms he would like to see at the WHO to see funding reinstated.
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The WHO plays a vital role in international efforts to battle a range of diseases and testing vaccines in scores of nations.
President Trump attempted to defend his record at one of the most extraordinary press conferences of his unconventional presidency this week.
He railed at the news media and blamed it for the unfavourable coverage of his COVID-19 response.
The devastating impact of the virus on the health and lives of Americans and on the US economy may reduce Trump’s chances of re-election in November.