President Donald Trump has taken the first official step toward withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The move comes after the nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, affecting more than 3 million people and killed over 133,000. Globally, the virus has killed more than 544,000 people.
Trump administration has submitted a notice of withdrawal to the United Nations secretary-general, who is the depository for the WHO, according to a senior administration official.
The notice will be effective from July 6, 2021, as the withdrawal from the global health organization requires a one-year notice before termination.
Congress has received the notice of the withdrawal, according to Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
Menendez criticized the move and called Mr. Trump’s “response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice.” He tweeted, “This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone.”
UN Foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Cousens called the move “short-sighted, unnecessary and unequivocally dangerous.”
“WHO is the only body capable of leading and coordinating the global response to COVID-19,” Cousens said in a statement. “Terminating the US relationship would undermine the global effort to beat this virus – putting all of us at risk.”
A month ago, Trump announced he would be “terminating” the relationship between the US and WHO over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling the organization “China-centric” and blaming it for the rapid spread of the virus across the world.
Recently, the US has experienced a surge in new cases in 40 states, prompting state and local bodies to halt the re-opening of their economies.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the pandemic is “accelerating.” He said the “case for national unity and global solidarity is undeniable. We cannot afford any divisions.”
He said the organization is sending experts to China to better understand how the virus was transmitted to humans. Worldwide, COVID-19 has affected more than 11.9 million people.