Story at a glance
- “My friends, make no mistake, the greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself, rather, it’s the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels,” the WHO director-general said Thursday.
- Tedros said the coronavirus in most of the world is not under control and is getting worse.
- The Trump administration for several months threatened to pull the U.S. out of WHO, as President Trump repeatedly slammed the organization for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak and alleged bias toward China.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday gave an emotional plea for international solidarity in fighting the coronavirus pandemic after the U.S. this week formally moved to withdraw from the global health body.
“We must come together in a global conversation, to take these hard-won lessons and turn them into action. My friends, make no mistake, the greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself. Rather, it’s the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels,” Tedros said during a news conference Thursday with tears in his eyes.
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“How is it difficult for humans to unite to fight a common enemy that’s killing people indiscriminately?” he asked. “Are we unable to distinguish or identify the common enemy? Can’t we understand that the divisions or the cracks between us actually are to the advantage of the virus?”
The WHO official explained the virus in most of the world is not under control and is getting worse.
“The pandemic is still accelerating. The total number of cases has doubled in the last 6 weeks,” Tedros said.
More than 12 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed with more than 550,000 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The U.S. this week set a bleak single-day record for coronavirus cases, with more than 60,000 confirmed. More than 3 million cases have been confirmed with more than 132,000 deaths.
The plea for unity from WHO officials comes after the White House submitted its withdrawal notification to the United Nations (UN) secretary-general Tuesday.
The Trump administration for several months threatened to pull the U.S. out of WHO, as President Trump repeatedly slammed the organization for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak and alleged bias toward China.
The U.S. is the largest contributor to the WHO, contributing upwards of $400 million annually to organization.
The move by the White House has faced widespread criticism from lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) tweeted Tuesday.
“Abandoning our seat at the table leaves the United States out of global decision-making to combat the virus and global efforts to develop and access vaccines and therapeutics, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 while diminishing our position as the leader of global health,” Thomas File, Jr., president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America said in a statement.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he would reverse the withdrawal if elected.
“Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health. On my first day as President, I will rejoin [WHO] and restore our leadership on the world stage,” Biden tweeted Tuesday.
Withdrawal from the WHO requires a year’s notice and will go into effect July 6, 2021.
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