WHO director-general says greatest threat to world is 'lack of leadership'

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus blasted what he called a "lack of leadership" in combatting the coronavirus, urging nations to work together to defeat the disease.

"My friends, make no mistake: The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself," Tedros said during a speech in Geneva on Thursday. "Rather, it's the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels."

Tedros's statement comes as multiple nations, including the U.S., Brazil, India and several others, are reporting record highs for infections, according to the WHO.


The U.S. recently surpassed 3 million confirmed cases, while record single-day infection rates continue to rise.

Australia, a country that maintained lower rates of cases at the beginning of the outbreak, announced Monday it would isolate 6.6 million people in Victoria following a massive spike in cases in Melbourne.

"How is it difficult for humans to unite to fight a common enemy that's killing people indiscriminately?" Tedros said Thursday amid a WHO meeting. "Are we unable to distinguish or identify the common enemy? Can't we understand that the divisions or the cracks between us actually are the advantage for the virus?"

The WHO head's plea comes just days after the Trump administration informed Congress and the United Nations that the U.S. would formally withdraw from the WHO, which will go into effect next July.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE previously halted funding for the WHO in April after blasting the organization for being China-centric, saying, "The WHO's attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above life-saving measures."

The move drew swift criticism from bipartisan lawmakers, and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Biden clarifies comments comparing African American and Latino communities Kanye West may have missed deadline to get on Wisconsin ballot by minutes: report MORE said this week he would reverse the decision on his first day in office if elected.

Other countries in the European Union have stood by the WHO, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic revealed "fact-denying populism" within the world.

"We have seen lies and disinformation, and that is no way to fight the pandemic," she told the European Parliament in Brussels.