The US president contradicted himself within minutes, first vowing to put “a very powerful hold” on his government’s funding of the WHO, then insisting such a freeze was only under consideration.
Trump’s early inaction has come under renewed scrutiny in the past day after a New York Times report that Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, warned in a memo in late January that the virus could put millions of Americans at risk and cost trillions of dollars. Susan Rice, a former national security adviser, told the Washington Post that Trump’s missteps “cost tens of thousands of American lives”. The president has repeatedly denied responsibility and sought to blame China, the Obama administration and the media. On Tuesday, with the US death toll exceeding 12,000, he unleashed a tirade at the WHO, even though it raised the alarm in January, after which he made statements downplaying it and comparing it to the common flu.