Leeds academic blasts 'short sighted and hypocritical' Donald Trump for WHO funding cut

Donald Trump’s decision to halt US funding for the World Health Organisation over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been condemned by a Leeds expert.

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 11:45 am

The US president accused the international body of “severely mismanaging and covering up” the spread of the virus.

But Downing Street said the organisation was playing an important role in tackling the spread of the virus, and scientists hit out at the “short-sighted” move.

Mr Trump said his administration would suspend funding of up to £400 million (500 million US dollars) a year for the organisation.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

President Donald Trump (photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

He said US taxpayers are the largest contributors to the WHO, dwarfing the amount paid by China.

Mr Trump claimed the WHO had made a “disastrous” decision to oppose travel restrictions from China, but the president said his actions in ignoring that advice had saved “untold numbers of lives”.

He has previously accused the United Nations’ health agency of being “China-centric”.

Downing Street defended the WHO’s role and said the UK was not planning to follow Mr Trump’s lead.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Our position is that the UK has no plans to stop funding the WHO, which has an important role to play in leading the global health response.

“Coronavirus is a global challenge and it’s essential that countries work together to tackle this shared threat.”

But a Leeds scientist is one of many across the UK who have railed against Mr Trump’s actions and stressed the need for international co-operation in tackling Covid-19.

Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor at the University of Leeds School of Medicine, said: “This most recent intervention in public health policy by President Trump is perhaps one of the least productive, most short-sighted, self-motivated and hypocritical acts I have ever witnessed.

“As far as I can ascertain, it has no foundation in reality.

“I suspect this move has the support of precisely 0 per cent of the US scientific and healthcare communities, and, I would hope, only a small minority of the population as a whole.”

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said: “This pandemic has exposed our international interdependence like never before.

“The right response is more, not less, co-operation.

“International institutions will only ever succeed with progressive global leadership, not cynically trying to shift the blame.”