After months of accusing China of having failed to halt the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, and the WHO, in turn, of having failed to hold Beijing to account, Trump announced on Friday the United States was severing ties with the WHO.
"Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs," Trump said in comments outside the White House.
The US is the WHO's single largest funding provider, supplying the UN agency with between $212 and $513 million per year, giving it $453 million last year, according to administration officials.
Trump announced on April 14 his administration was withholding funds from the WHO until an investigation could be carried out into its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, earlier this year - although it was later revealed that the US had already held up payments to the WHO before Trump's decision.
"They could have called it much earlier, they would have known, and they should have known, and they probably didn't know," Trump said in early April about the WHO. “They’ve been wrong about a lot of things ... they seem to be China-centric ... we’re going to look into that."
The president echoed that sentiment on Friday, claiming that "China's coverup of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives."
"China has total control over the World Health Organization despite paying only $40 million per year," Trump said. "The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency."
"We must have answers - not only for us, but for the rest of the world," he continued.
The WHO's assistant director-general of general management, Stewart Simonson, said earlier this week that a US departure from the agency was "unimaginable."
"I cannot imagine an environment where the United States would not be in WHO," he told CNN, noting the US has been the "leader in global public health" since 1902. He denied any favoritism by the agency toward China.