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WHO pushes back on Trump comment that it's 'China centric'

The World Health Organization (WHO) pushed back on recent criticism from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE, who described the body as “very China centric” in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying work with the country where the disease was first detected was critical to learning more about the virus. 

Dr. Bruce Aylward, who serves as senior adviser to the organization’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters that it “was absolutely critical in the early part of this outbreak to have full access to everything possible, to get on the ground and work with the Chinese to understand this,” Reuters reported Wednesday.

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“This is what we did with every other hard hit country like Spain and had nothing to do with China specifically,” he continued.

He also reportedly rejected Trump’s criticism the day before about the organization's recommendation to keep U.S. borders open to China, pointing to early steps Beijing made to mitigate the outbreak. 

The comments by Aylward come a day after Trump leveled harsh criticism against the WHO for its response to the global coronavirus outbreak, saying the organization “really blew it.”

“The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look,” Trump tweeted on early Tuesday, adding: “Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”

In later remarks at a press briefing on Tuesday, Trump said that his administration would be looking more deeply into the organization’s response to the outbreak and was considering placing a hold on funding to the body. 

When asked by a reporter if it was a good idea to withhold funding to the health organization amid the pandemic, Trump responded: “I’m not going to say I’m going to do it. We will look at ending funding.”

Reuters noted that the U.S. is one of the organization’s largest donors. The country reportedly gave more than $400 million to the WHO last year. That figure is reportedly more than eight times the contribution China made to the WHO in 2019.

In pushing back on Trump’s comments about funding Tuesday, Dr. Hans Kluge, the organization’s regional director for Europe at a briefing, reportedly pointed to the ongoing pandemic.

“We are still in the acute phase of a pandemic,” he said during a briefing, “so now is not the time to cut back on funding,”