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Senate GOP chairman criticizes Trump withdrawal from WHO

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience The Memo: Trump election loss roils right MORE (R-Tenn.) said Friday that he disagrees with President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE’s decision to end U.S. membership in the World Health Organization (WHO), adding a prominent Republican voice to criticism of the move from health experts and Democrats. 

“I disagree with the president’s decision,” Alexander said in a statement.

“Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it,” he said.

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He added that withdrawal of U.S. funding and membership in the WHO could hurt its efforts to coordinate work on a coronavirus vaccine, as well as its work on other viruses that can reach American shores.  

“Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need,” Alexander said. “And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”

Trump announced earlier on Friday that he is “terminating” the U.S. relationship with the WHO, which he has blamed for being too China-centric and for failing to do enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus early on. 

Trump’s move drew a swift rebuke from doctors groups as well who said the middle of a pandemic is no time to be withdrawing support for the WHO.

"In the grip of a global pandemic that has already killed more than 100,000 Americans, severing ties with the World Health Organization (WHO) serves no logical purpose and makes finding a way out of this public health crisis dramatically more challenging,” said American Medical Association President Patrice Harris. 

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“This senseless action will have significant, harmful repercussions now and far beyond this perilous moment, particularly as the WHO is leading worldwide vaccine development and drug trials to combat the pandemic,” she added. 

Democrats also argued that withdrawing U.S. influence from the WHO would allow China to play a larger role, rather than make the organization less beholden to China. 

Trump has looked to put the blame on China for the toll of the virus. 

“China’s coverup of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives and over one million lives worldwide,” Trump said Friday.