“My belief is that it will continue that way,” he added. “That’s what I believe. The U.S. will continue to contribute its share. Other countries will do the same.”
Hours earlier, a WHO senior adviser said the organization had to work with China to understand the disease caused by the coronavirus, a response to Trump’s criticism that the global body is “very China centric.”
“They called it wrong and if you look back over the years even, they are very much, everything seems to be very biased towards China,” Trump said Tuesday of the WHO’s early response to the virus. “That’s not right.”
Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the WHO director general, told reporters on Wednesday that since the virus emerged in China and caused “the vast majority of the world’s cases” by mid-February, the WHO had to go there and understand “the curiousness of the disease,” including how it’s transmitted and what the Chinese were doing that seemed to slow it down.
Aylward led the WHO mission to China in mid-February and has since praised the country’s efforts in fighting the virus, noting that there were a lot of questions about what worked and what didn’t.
“It’s been such an important part of being able to manage what is currently an extraordinarily devastating public health crisis,” he added.
The WHO takes the same approach with all countries and was not giving special treatment to China, which happened to be the place where it all started, he said.
Responding to a question about the WHO’s advice against introducing travel bans from China — guidance that Trump has also blasted — Aylward said the key is to ensure people who are infected and those who have been exposed to them did not travel. Once China understood what it was dealing with, it worked to minimize that risk by restricting movement out of the country, he said.
Those comments follow Trump’s threat on Tuesday to cut U.S. funding for the WHO, which could hit the organization badly, since the country remains its biggest donor.
“We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it, and we’re going to see,” Trump said at the outset of a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House.
Minutes later, though, the president walked back the declaration, saying he was merely “looking into it” and conceding that a global pandemic was “maybe not” the best time to freeze funding for the agency.
In response, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said on Wednesday that given the acute phase of the pandemic, now is “not the time to cut back on funding.”
Tedros told reporters he has faced death threats as well as racist attacks – and specifically pointed to Taiwan as the source of a personal campaign against him.
Of the personal racial slurs, he said, “I don’t give a damn” – but criticized what he deemed political attacks that threaten to exacerbate the virus.
“There is a very clear line,” Tedros said. “The fight between humanity and this virus.”
Caitlin Oprysko contributed to this report.