President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused the World Health Organization of minimizing the threat of the coronavirus as he escalated the war-of-words with the humanitarian group.
'The WHO got it wrong, they got up very wrong. In many ways they were wrong. They also minimized the threat very strongly,' President Trump said at his daily White House press briefing.
He also charged the group with claiming there was no human-to-human transmission of the deadly disease.
White House economic adviser Peter Navarro added fuel to the fire Wednesday night when he slammed WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu as one of China’s 'proxies'.
President Donald Trump accused the World Health Organization of minimizing the threat of the coronavirus as he escalated war with agency
Trump focused his attack Wednesday on WHO's contradicting statements on the virus.
'As you know they made a statement January 14th that there was no human to human transmission -- there was,' Trump said.
The WHO tweeted on January 14, citing Chinese officials who claimed there had been no human transmissions of the virus in its country.
The group later acknowledged there was human-to-human transmission.
In his continued war of words against the WHO, the president reiterated his complaint that the agency was critical when he shut down flights from certain parts of China and he went on to complain about how much money the United States gave the group, which is part of the United Nations.
He said he was thinking about holding back millions of American funding.
'We are going to study and investigation and make a determination as to what we're doing. In the meantime we are holding back,' he said.
His comments came after the head of the World Health Organization warned the president to stop politicizing the coronavirus crisis 'if you don't want many more body bags.'
'At the end of the day, the people belong to all political parties. The focus of all political parties should be to save their people, please do not politicize this virus,' WHO Director-General Tedros said in a virtual press briefing.
'If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don't want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.'
Trump fired back.
'So when he say’s politicizing he’s politicizing, and he shouldn’t be,' the president said at his daily briefing when he was asked about Tedros' comment.
'I can't believe he's talking about politics when look at the relationship they have to China,' Trump said and repeated his charge the agency favored China above other countries.
Tedros, at his briefing, made an appeal for global unit and said all leaders of all political parties should focus on saving their people.
'Unity is the only option to defeat this virus,' he said.
'Without unity, we assure you even any country that may have a better system will be in trouble and more crisis. That's our message. Unity at the national level,' he said. 'No need to use COVID to score political points. No need. You have many other ways to prove yourselves.'
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu warned President Donald Trump to stop politicizing the coronavirus crisis 'if you don't want many more body bags'
President Trump attacked the World Health Organization on Tuesday, calling it too 'China centric' and suggesting that it was hiding information about the coronavirus from the rest of the world
'The United States and China should come together and fight this dangerous enemy,' Tedros said. 'They should come together to fight it and the rest of G-20 should come together to fight it, and the rest of the world should come together and fight it.
'We will have many body bags in front of us if we don't behave,' he noted. 'When there are cracks at [the] national level and global level, that is when the virus succeeds.
The organization has become the latest target of President Trump in his blame game as he points the finger for the devastating effects of the coronavirus - an economic down turn and over 12,000 American deaths - at everyone but his administration. Also feeling Trump's fury has been China, the states, governors and the Democrats.
The president has called it 'China-centric' and complained they 'missed the call' when it came to the coronavirus.
Tedros was called a 'proxy' of China by White House economic adviser Peter Navarro in an interview with Fox 's The Story Wednesday night
'What China has been doing very aggressively over the last decade is to try to gain control of those by electing people to the top. It already controls five of the 15, also, by using proxies, colonial-like proxies, like Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus] at the WHO,' Navarro said to host Martha MacCallum
Navarro defended the president’s consideration to cut funding to the WHO saying the lack of transparency cost the US 'about five weeks' of preparation for the virus that has already claimed over 14,000 lives
Tedros was called a 'proxy' of China by White House economic adviser Peter Navarro in an interview with Fox's The Story Wednesday night.
'The U.N. itself has 15 specialized agencies, including the WHO,' Navarro said to host Martha MacCallum.
'What China has been doing very aggressively over the last decade is to try to gain control of those by electing people to the top. It already controls five of the 15, also, by using proxies, colonial-like proxies, like Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus] at the WHO.
'As you can see in this crisis, the damage [done by] that kind of control by China [of] the key health organization has been absolutely enormous. They suppressed the human to human transmission [data], they refused to call it a pandemic,' he added.
He then made a jab at Tedros' leadership, commenting on how WHO 'basically discouraged travel bans.'
Navarro defended the president’s consideration to cut funding to the WHO saying the lack of transparency cost the US 'about five weeks' of preparation for the virus that has already claimed over 14,000 lives.
Tedros is an Ethiopian microbiologist and internationally recognized malaria researcher, who is the the first non-physician and first African to head the health organization, a role he has held since 2017.
He previously served as Ethiopia's minister of health and minister of foreign affairs.
Tedros, who is black, said he doesn't 'care about personal attacks' against himself, addressing the death threats and insults he's experienced amid the global pandemic, which has seen 1.4 million cases worldwide with more than 82,000 deaths in 209 countries across the world.
'I can tell you personal attacks that have been going on for more than two, three months. Abuses, or racist comments, giving me names, Black or Negro. I'm proud of being Black, proud of being Negro,' he said. 'I don't care to be honest ... even death threats. I don't give a damn.'
Dr. Deborah Birx said the World Health Organization delayed labeling the coronavirus outbreak a 'global pandemic'
Dr. Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, refused to get involved in the White House war with the WHO
On Tuesday President Trump launched a full-scale attack against the agency when he was withholding the millions of dollars the United States' contributed to it before reversing himself to say there should be an investigation of the group's response to the pandemic.
Dr. Deborah Birx joined the criticism, saying the group delayed labeling the coronavirus outbreak a 'global pandemic.'
Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the administration, appeared to implicate the agency's ties to China - which is rapidly become a conservative talking point - saying the WHO can only respond to information it receives.
'You know, the WHO can only react to the data it's given. And when you go back and look at the timeline, it wasn't until I think almost the middle of January that China reported that there was human-to-human transmission,' she said on CBS' 'This Morning.'
'We have to really investigate reporting and how the reports were received there. I think it did delay the ability to declare this a global pandemic, an emergency. We can do all of that when we get through this as a global community to really understand how to do this better the next time,' she noted.
Birx clarified Trump's remarks when she did a series of interviews Wednesday morning after the White House endured a chaotic day: a shake up in press office, a key watchdog removed by the president, and Trump's contentious press briefing.
'When the president said he was holding funds, he didn't say he was restricting and keeping funds permanently away. But said instead said let's investigate what happened. Let's see what happened in our reporting. We've done that before with previous outbreaks and previous issues that have occurred at WHO,' Birx said on ABC's 'Good Morning America.'
But Dr. Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, refused to get involved in the White House war with the WHO.
'I can't get involved in that kind of discussion,' he said Wednesday morning on Fox News Channel's 'America's Newsroom.' 'I just need to focus on what my job is, to see what we can do in this country and globally to put an end to this. The interaction between the WHO is -- is something that I really prefer not to get involved with.'
At a daily press briefing on Tuesday, Trump accused the WHO of mishandling the coronavirus outbreak and said: 'We're going to put a hold on money.'
When asked by reporters whether it was wise to slash funding to the WHO during a time of emergency, the