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Lancet knocks Trump for 'factually incorrect' statement in letter warning of WHO funding cuts

The Lancet medical journal knocked President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE on Tuesday for a “factually incorrect” statement in his letter warning of World Health Organization (WHO) funding cuts.  

The medical journal released a statement saying Trump’s claim that the journal published reports in December 2019 or earlier about a coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, were wrong. 

“This statement is factually incorrect,” the journal said in a statement posted on Twitter. “The Lancet published no report in December, 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China.”

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Trump wrote in the letter released Monday night that the WHO “consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal.”

The president’s Monday night letter to the WHO director-general threatened to permanently stop U.S. funds to WHO and withdraw the country from the WHO if it “does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”

The Lancet said it first published reports on coronavirus on Jan. 24, including one involving the first 41 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in Wuhan. The researchers for that report were all from Chinese institutions.

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The other report published on the same date discussed the first evidence of person-to-person transmission of the virus. Scientists from Hong Kong and mainland China contributed to the study.

“The allegations levelled against WHO in President Trump’s letter are serious and damaging to efforts to strengthen international cooperation to control this pandemic,” The Lancet’s statement said. “It is essential that any review of the global response is based on a factually accurate account of what took place in December and January.”

The White House did not immediately respond for comment.  

Lancet editor Richard Horton, who previously has criticized Trump, posted a tweet directed at the president, saying no report was published in the journal before Jan. 24. 

Trump had announced in April that the U.S. would pause funding for the WHO until an independent investigation was conducted of its management of the coronavirus crisis. The U.S. contributed funds adding up to about 20 percent of the WHO’s budget the past two years. 

The president’s critics say Trump is seeking to blame the WHO to shift attention from his administration's response to the crisis, which has also come under heavy criticism. 

More than 90,000 people in the United States have been killed by the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University