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Biden admin will pay WHO $200+ million membership dues blocked by Trump

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 27, 2021. (State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha)
February 17, 2021

By the end of the month, the Biden administration will pay over $200 million in membership fees previously blocked by former President Donald Trump to the World Health Organization, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday.

“This is a key step forward in fulfilling our financial obligations as a WHO member and it reflects our renewed commitment to ensuring the WHO has the support it needs to lead the global response to the pandemic even as we work to reform it for the future,” Blinken told the U.N. Security Council during a videoconference.

“The United States will work with our partners across the globe to expand manufacturing and distribution capacity and to increase access, including marginalized populations,” Blinken said.

The top diplomat also asked his counterparts to fight against misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to providing investigators probing the origins of the pandemic with any pertinent information.

“The ongoing expert investigation about the origins of this pandemic and the report that will be issued must be independent with findings based on science and facts and free from interference,” Blinken said. “To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, all countries must make available all data from the earliest days of the outbreak,” he added.

Blinken’s comments build on President Joe Biden’s early decision to rejoin the United Nations’ health organization, reversing Trump’s withdrawal last year.

In April, Trump accused the World Health Organization of “severely mismanaging and covering up the coronavirus,” suspending funding to the global group.  

“China has total control over the World Health Organization, despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year,” Trump said.

In July, the former administration notified the U.N. secretary-general of its decision to formally withdraw the United States from the WHO by July 6, 2021.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he hoped the United States would reverse course, CNBC reported. “The problem is not about the money. It’s not the financing that’s the issue. It’s actually the relationship with the U.S. that’s more important and its leadership abroad,” Ghebreyesus said.

On Wednesday, Britain called on China to cooperate with the World Health Organization’s investigation into the pandemic’s origins, Reuters reported.

Both the Untied States and Britain have voiced alarm regarding the WHO’s investigation in China.

“We want to see full cooperation,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC radio.

The foreign secretary said understanding the origins of COVID-19 is critical “because then the issue of responsibility can be addressed but also frankly, looking forward, so we can learn the lessons.”