By V. Susan Hutchinson
Donald Trump has been putting American lives at risk from COVID-19 since February. His incompetence, massive ego and need to blame someone else for his failures have resulted in thousands of deaths across the country. And now Trump has decided to put the lives of people in other countries at risk by making the decision to stop funding the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO is an agency of the United Nations. Donald Trump hates anything that smacks of countries working together for the greater good of all and has had an axe to grind with the U.N. since he got into office.
To Trump, globalization is bad, America first and foremost is the only thing that matters. Except it doesn’t. During the COVID-19 pandemic it’s Trump first while governors, especially Democratic ones, work hard to do what is in the best interests of the people in their states.
Timelines Are Important
Trump claims he is withholding funds to the WHO because they were covering up for mistakes they made early on. Looking at who knew what and when shows any mistakes the WHO might have made pale in comparison to mistakes made in the United States, which had deadly consequences.
China reported to WHO they had identified a novel coronavirus Dec 31, 2019. On January 12, China publicly shared the genetic sequences of the virus. Publicly. Not just with the WHO.
No cover ups or collusion between China and the WHO here. Within a couple of weeks of getting the genetic sequences, the WHO developed test kits and published the guidelines for making kits.
The CDC rejected using the WHO test guidelines and developed their own kit, which began shipping to state health departments February 6. This CDC test kit picked up cross contamination from other viruses leading to a high percentage of false positive results. It took weeks to develop and ship more accurate kits.
The WHO Joint Mission Report
The WHO Joint Mission met February 16-24. The group consisted of experts not only from the WHO, but several countries, including the United States CDC and NIH. Although the 40-page report is mostly technical, it states that:
“China’s uncompromising and rigorous use of non-pharmaceutical measures to contain transmission of the COVID-19 virus in multiple settings provides vital lessons for the global response.”
The report continues by saying (emphasis is mine):
COVID-19 is spreading with astonishing speed; COVID-19 outbreaks in any setting have very serious consequences; and there is now strong evidence that non-pharmaceutical interventions can reduce and even interrupt transmission. Concerningly, global and national preparedness planning is often ambivalent about such interventions. However, to reduce COVID-19 illness and death, near-term readiness planning must embrace the large-scale implementation of high-quality, non-pharmaceutical public health measures.
Also included is the following recommendation for countries with imported cases and/or outbreaks (emphasis is mine):
- Fully educate the general public on the seriousness of COVID-19 and their role in preventing its spread
On February 27 Trump makes the statement “It’s going to disappear.”
The report makes these recommendations for uninfected countries (emphasis is mine):
- Prepare to immediately activate the highest level of emergency response mechanisms to trigger the all-of-government and all-of society approach that is essential for early containment of a COVID-19 outbreak
- Rapidly assess the general population’s understanding of COVID-19, adjust national health promotion materials and activities accordingly, and engage clinical champions to communicate with the media.
On February 26, Trump announces Vice President Mike Pence and not the head of the NIH or CDC, will lead the task force.
Finally, the report states the international community needs to (emphasis is mine):
- Recognize that true solidarity and collaboration is essential between nations to tackle the common threat that COVID-19 represents and operationalize this principle
The WHO declares a global pandemic March 12 and the next day Trump states “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
And now Trump is cutting funding to the WHO while his Republican conspirators in Congress are planning to investigate them as well as China. All while the infection and death rates escalate.
Good job on collaborating to tackle the common threat, Donald!
Coronavirus Playing Second Fiddle to Trump
We all know that it didn’t take long for Mike Pence to be pushed aside and Donald Trump to take over and turn this into a side show instead of a daily public health briefing. And now, after trying to blame Barack Obama for cocking up the U.S. response, he is targeting the agency everyone relies on for guidance in public health emergencies.
The CDC has the knowledge and resources to create test kits for our country; however, other countries do not have this same ability. These countries rely on the WHO for their needs during a global health crisis. Manufacture of test kits not only for determining current and past infection, as well as a vaccine costs money.
Cutting off funds to the WHO is tantamount to mass murder. Donald Trump has no shame.