Boris Johnson news: UK to ‘withhold’ WHO funding until they find out source of coronavirus | UK | News
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, the Prime Minister confirmed the UK will pledge £340m to the WHO over the next four years – an increase of 30 percent on the previous investment. The WHO has faced criticism over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic which has infected more than 32 million people and killed more than 980,000 others. The health body was first alerted to an outbreak of COVID-19 by Chinese officials in December 2019.
US President Donald Trump has accused the organisation of being too close to Beijing and has withdrawn funding.
The WHO and China have always denied any wrongdoing.
However, it is understood Mr Johnson is seeking reassurances on its relationship with Beijing and called on the organisation to find out where COVID-19 came from before committing to funding for the previous period, the Daily Mail reports.
Speaking at the virtual summit, Mr Johnson reaffirmed his support for the director-general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom, but acknowledged there is a need for reform.
The Prime Minister also warned the world should have been better prepared for the outbreak and insisted “alarm bells were ringing before this calamity struck.”
He said: “The UK supports the efforts of the World Health Organisation and of my friend, Tedros, to explore the aetiology of the disease, because however great the need for reform, the WHO, the World Health Organisation, is still the one body that marshals humanity against the legions of disease.
“That is why we in the UK – global Britain – are one of the biggest global funders of that organisation, contributing £340million over the next four years, that’s an increase of 30 percent.
“And as we now send our medical detectives to interview the witnesses and the suspects – bats, the pangolins, whoever – we should have enough humility to acknowledge that alarm bells were ringing before this calamity struck.”
In a bid to prevent any future outbreaks, he also presented a five-point plan to improve the international response.
They include a global network of research hubs, more vaccine manufacturing capacity, and an agreement to reduce export tariffs imposed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Johnson insisted the global pandemic has taken a toll on international relationships and called on leaders to “repair these ugly rifts”.
“Let’s heal the world – literally and metaphorically. And let’s begin with the truth because as someone once said, the truth shall set you free.”
The Prime Minister also confirmed the UK will commit to an initial £71million to the global vaccine partnership known as COVAX to secure purchase rights on 27 million doses.
As well as £500million to a separate COVAX initiative to help poorer countries access a vaccine.