Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the foreign appropriations subcommittee, said Tuesday that the World Health Organization will not receive any funding from the United States under its current leadership because of how the organization has handled the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the next appropriations bill, there’s not going to be any money for the WHO,” the South Carolina Republican said on Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”
“I’m in charge of the appropriations subcommittee,” Graham said. “I’m not going to support funding the WHO under its current leadership. They’ve been deceptive. They’ve been slow and they’ve been Chinese apologists.”
He added, “I don’t think they’re a good investment, under the current leadership, for the United States. And until they change their behavior and get new leadership, I think it’s in America’s best interest to withhold funding because they have failed miserably when it comes to the coronavirus.”
Host Martha MacCallum pointed to a couple of examples of some of the WHO’s coronavirus failures, including information it tweeted about “preliminary” findings from Chinese authorities that downplayed the seriousness of the virus.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China🇨🇳. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
“Not only did they praise President Xi [Jinping], they criticized President [Donald] Trump. They called his decision to stop travel from China to the United States, I think, basically irresponsible,” Graham added.
“Here’s the point. Without China being irresponsible — lying to the world about the way the disease is transmitted, withholding information about the level of infection, silencing doctors — there would be no pandemic.”
The senator was responding to comments Trump made Tuesday about funding for the WHO.
“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,” the president said during a coronavirus media briefing.
“It’s a great thing if it works, but when they call every shot wrong, that’s no good.”
Graham also criticized China’s wet markets, where exotic animals are sold for human consumption, because of the markets’ role in the transmission of devastating outbreaks such as the coronavirus.
“China is a pandemic incubator. These wet markets create conditions for the virus to spread from the human food chain, from wild animals like bats and monkeys,” he said.
“Without China, there would be no coronavirus pandemic. And the WHO was slow to react and actually shielded China from legitimate criticism.”
Medical experts on the ground indicated at the time that Huanan Seafood Market had been the only major common denominator between those individuals admitted to Wuhan hospitals with the first known cases of the virus.
Virologists and medical researchers suggest that the novel coronavirus is more than likely a zoonotic virus, having originated in bats and spread to other animals within the market before making the jump to humans.
“No more money to the WHO until they get new people in charge who understand they’re there to help the world fight disease, not apologize for China,” Graham said.
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