US president Donald Trump turned on the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a scapegoat to mask his political difficulties with the US response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was not until February 24, five weeks after the first reported case in the US, that his administration requested funds from Congress for a coronavirus response. Trump also downplayed the severity of the virus known to be pathogenic until early March, telling the US people that by April the virus would “just go away” and that global death tolls are “fake news”.

Once media attention began shifting to the severity of outbreaks in the US and the lack of adequate response from the White House, Trump changed his tune and tried to shift blame. The WHO was an obvious target. On April 7 he tweeted: “The WHO really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the US, yet very China-centric.” By April 15 the administration had announced that it would halt its funding for the WHO. It was a peremptory act in the middle of...

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