On Friday, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander said that he disagrees with U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO), The Hill reported.
Alexander said that the WHO’s mistakes amid the coronavirus pandemic need to be analyzed, but he warned that now is not the right time to end the United States’ membership in the organization.
“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.”
The Tennessee Republican noted that Trump’s decision could hurt the world’s efforts to develop an effective vaccine against COVID-19.
“Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines,” he said.
Alexander added that the withdrawal could also have an impact on the WHO’s work pertaining to other dangerous viruses, stating that “withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”
Public health experts agreed with Alexander. American Medical Association President Patrice Harris said that withdrawing from the WHO “serves no logical purpose,” adding that Trump’s order will have “harmful repercussions” amid the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
Democrats in the U.S. Congress also criticized Trump’s order, with some arguing that China will now be able to play an even bigger role in the WHO.
Trump announced the decision to cut ties with the WHO earlier on Friday. In an official statement, the president said that China has “total control” over the WHO, pointing out that the United States has been paying $450 million annually to the organization. Trump added that “China’s coverup” allowed COVID-19 to spread across the globe.
The president has previously sought to blame China for the outbreak. For Trump and the Republican Party, this seems to be a matter of political strategy ahead of the November elections. According to reports, Trump and the GOP are looking to ramp up anti-China rhetoric in the coming months.
Republican representatives and senators have voiced support for Trump’s calls for a more aggressive approach to China, in what critics see as an attempt to distract the public from the administration’s failures. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise and senators Rick Scott of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have all echoed Trump’s attacks.