‘Blaming won’t help’: Germany slams Trump’s WHO payment freeze

Germany slammed Wednesday the US decision to suspend payments to the World Health Organization (WHO), as Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned against "blaming others" for the coronavirus crisis.

'Blaming won't help': Germany slams Trump's WHO payment freeze
German foreign minister Heiko Maas speaking in Berlin on February 20th. Photo: DPA

US President Donald Trump announced the funding freeze on Tuesday, accusing
the WHO of “severely mismanaging” the spread of the virus.

“Blaming others won't help. The virus knows no borders,” Maas wrote on Twitter.

“One of the best investments is to strengthen the UN, above all the under-financed WHO… in the development and distribution of tests and vaccines.”

Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert, meanwhile, said that the WHO was doing
“unbelievably important work”.

“The government is convinced of the need to support and sufficiently finance the WHO,” he added.

The United States is the biggest contributor to the WHO, making payments of
$400 million last year. Germany is the fourth largest contributor behind China and Japan, according to Statista.

Trump accused the Geneva-based body of putting “political correctness above
life-saving measures”.

The move sparked criticism across the world, and Berlin joined the chorus
on Wednesday, with Seibert saying that the pandemic was cause to “uphold our
fundamental belief in the benefits of multilateralism”.

Foreign Minister Maas, meanwhile, stressed the need for countries to “work
together closely against COVID-19″.

Maas has previously taken aim at the Trump administration's reaction to the
virus crisis.

In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine last week, he said the United States had “played down the virus for a very long time”.

“There really isn't any dispute, even in the USA, that many of the measures were taken too late,” he told Spiegel.

Member comments

  1. The utter hypocrisy of Heiko Maas and the Germans in general. Here we have the WHO, led by an inept and perhaps corrupt Tedros Adhanom who downplayed the Chinese virus outbreak while covering for the Chinese. If the WHO had done their job perhaps thousands of lives could have been saved. But what do the Germans and other Trump-hating socialist do but blame the US? The reality is the UN and its various organizations like WHO are bloated, inefficient, and corrupt. They are no more efficient and effective in combating famine, war or pandemic as the EU is at controlling its borders and probably worse. If the Germans don’t like the cut then step up to the plate and pay to make up the difference! Since WW2 the US taxpayer has spent trillions of US dollars in Germany and NATO while the Germans have never paid their fair share as it relates to NATO. The US does not need a lecture from the Germans and fortunately, we have a president who cares even less about what the Europeans think and more about his own citizens, unlike the arrogant pandering incompetnet blowhard Obama.

  2. In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine last week, he said the United States had “played down the virus for a very long time”.

    “There really isn’t any dispute, even in the USA, that many of the measures were taken too late,” he told Spiegel. How about the REALITY that Tedros Adhanom downplayed the virus? Oh, you forgot to mention that did ya? Without China’s deceit and WHO’s solicitude for Beijing, the outbreak might have been more limited, and the world at the very least would have had more time to react to the virus. China committed unforgivable sins of commission, affirmatively lying about the outbreak and punishing doctors and disappearing journalists who told the truth, whereas the WHO committed sins of omission—it lacked independence and courage at a moment of great consequence.

    In effect, China and the WHO worked together to expose the rest of the world to the virus, at the same time they downplayed its dangers. On Jan. 14, WHO tweeted that “preliminary investigations” by Chinese authorities had found no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus. Several days later, it reported “limited” human-to-human transmission, although it downplayed the finding as typical of respiratory illnesses. So, the WHO endorsed China’s narrative during the crucial early days of its cover-up.

    Then, the WHO declined to call the outbreak in China a public health emergency of international concern on Jan. 22, at the same time there were confirmed cases in Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea. After the WHO finally declared the emergency, it proceeded to drag its feet on declaring a pandemic, waiting until March 12. As a headline in Reuters put it in early February, “WHO chief says widespread travel bans not needed to beat China virus.” Incredibly enough, in late January, Tedros was praising Chinese officials for “the transparency they have demonstrated.” Ah but let’s see if any of this is discoverable in Der Spiegel? I doubt it!

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WHO to set up pandemic data hub in Berlin

The World Health Organization announced Wednesday it would set up a global data hub in Berlin to analyse information on emerging pandemic threats, filling the gaps exposed by Covid-19.

WHO to set up pandemic data hub in Berlin
Angela Merkel on May 5th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AFP Pool | John Macdougall

The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, which will start operating later this year, is set to analyse data quickly and in detail, in order to predict, prevent, detect, prepare for and respond to risks worldwide.

The hub will try to get ahead of the game, looking for pre-signals that go far beyond current systems that monitor publicly available information for signs of emerging outbreaks.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in the global systems for pandemic and epidemic intelligence,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists.

“There will be more viruses that will emerge with the potential for sparking epidemics or pandemics.

“Viruses move fast. But data can move even faster. With the right information, countries and communities can stay one step ahead of an emerging risk and save lives.”

READ ALSO: ‘We are still in the third wave’: German Health Minister urges caution in reopening after shutdown

Merging digital, health expertise

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin was a good location for the hub as it already had leading players in the digital and health fields, such as the Robert Koch Institute.

“If that expertise is now supplemented by the WHO Hub, we will create a unique environment for pandemic and health research here in Berlin – an environment from which important action-oriented insights will emerge for governments and leaders around the world,” she said in a video message.

It is hoped that the site will be operational from September. Its budget is still under discussion, while Germany will meet the start-up costs.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the world needed the capacity to detect outbreaks with the potential to become health crises “before the threat becomes a sad reality”.

Global systems were currently “insufficiently prepared” to handle the risks posed by outbreaks, mutations of existing pathogens, extensions of diseases to previously unaffected populations, and diseases jumping species from animals to humans, he added.

“There’s a clear need for a stronger global early warning alert and emergency response system with improved public health intelligence,” he said.

“Better data and better analytics are key for better decisions.”

 Looking for pre-signals

“There are signals that may occur before epidemics happen… data that can give us pre-signals,” said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan. That information could drive early decision-making, he added.

“The Hub will allow us to develop tools for that sort of predictive analytics,” he said.

A joint mission by international and Chinese scientists concluded in March that the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19 disease most likely passed to humans from a bat via an intermediary animal.

The experts’ report suggested the outbreak could have started as far back as September 2019, long before it was first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan.

The WHO only became aware of the new coronavirus on December 31st that year, when its epidemic intelligence service and its China office spotted a media report and a mention by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission of a mysterious cluster of pneumonia cases.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed at least 3.2 million people and more than 154 million cases have been registered worldwide since then, according to tallies from official sources compiled by AFP.