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Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Dr Nabarro claims it is sad to see the US pull out of the WHO as the most important country in the organisation’s budget. He warned the coronavirus pandemic will get “much worse” in the next six months and without the US the global effort to fight the virus will suffer. He said: “I’m just really sad because the world is facing a massive health crisis, it’s been extremely bad for the last six months, I fear it’s going to get much worse in the next six months.
“We still got a lot to find out about this virus and how to deal with it and it just seems really unfortunate that the most important in terms of size in the WHO budget, the most important country, decided to pull out.
“And I’m also really sad for the American people who I’m sure by and large want to be part of the global response and will be a bit confused about why this has happened.”
Asked whether tensions between China and Taiwan over the latter’s membership to WHO could have pushed the US President to make that decision, Dr Nabarro blasted: “First of all, the decision about whether Taiwan or anybody else is a member of the WHO is nothing to do with the WHO and its staff.
“It’s all to do with the people who run the WHO and they are the countries of the world. They elect each year about whether or not Taiwan or other members join – super important that everybody knows that.
“Secondly, the communications with the people in Taiwan and the institutions of Taiwan by the WHO were in no way affected by this and there’s been regular correspondence between them.”
The United States will leave the World Health Organisation on July 6, 2021, the United Nations said on Tuesday after receiving formal notification of the decision by President Donald Trump more than a month ago.
Trump had to give one-year notice of the US withdrawal from the Geneva-based UN agency under a 1948 joint resolution of the US Congress, which also obliges Washington to pay financial support. The United States currently owes the WHO more than $200 million in assessed contributions, according to the WHO website.
After more than 70 years of membership, the United States moved to quit the WHO after Trump accused it of becoming a puppet of China amid the coronavirus pandemic. The virus first emerged in China’s Wuhan city late last year.
“The Secretary-General is in the process of verifying with the World Health Organisation whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Trump had halted funding for the 194-member organization in April, then in a May 18 letter gave the WHO 30 days to commit to reforms. He announced the United States would quit less than two weeks later.
The WHO is an independent international body that works with the United Nations. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that the WHO is “absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19.” Trump has long scorned multilateralism as he focuses on an “America First” agenda.
Since taking office, he has quit the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency, a global accord to tackle climate change and the Iran nuclear deal. He has also cut funding for the UN population fund and the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees.
US coronavirus task force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that the United States and other countries could have had a stronger initial response to COVID-19 if China had been more forthcoming about key features of the virus.
At a panel held by the Atlantic Council, a US think tank, Birx said the United States would have been more focused on identifying COVID-19 patients without symptoms if China has shared information about the frequency with which COVID-19 patients, particularly young people, are asymptomatic.
“I have to say if we had known about the level of asymptomatic spread, we would have all looked at this differently,” Birx said at the panel. “That’s usually the initial countries’ responsibility and I think that did delay across the board our ability to really see or look for this.”
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Birx said that public health officials had originally assumed that only 15 to 20 percent of COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic when in fact that number is at least 40 percent.
“We were looking for people with symptoms. We should have looked for anyone who would have been exposed,” she said.
President Donald Trump has levelled blame at China for the outbreak, saying the country should have warned the world much sooner.
China’s United States embassy told Reuters in a statement that China has been open, transparent and responsible since the pandemic broke out.
“We notified the [World Health Organisation] of the epidemic, shared the genome sequencing of the virus, carried out international cooperation and helped other countries affected, all at the earliest time possible,” the statement said. “These are plain, internationally recognised facts, which cannot be denied or erased by anyone.”
The United States saw a 27 percent increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the week ended July 5 compared with the previous seven days.
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