Thu, 06 Aug 2020

Photo taken on July 7, 2020 shows the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

"Act of true senselessness"

"It leaves Americans sick and America alone"

"His go-it-alone approach puts America's health and security at risk"

"Withdrawal is counterintuitive at best and dangerous to human life at worst"

WASHINGTON, July 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump's official withdrawal of the country from the World Health Organization (WHO) has caused heated controversy, as lawmakers and experts nationwide expressed concerns over the ongoing global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The President's official withdrawal of the U.S. from the WHO is an act of true senselessness," U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter.

Trump made the decision at a time when "the WHO coordinates the global fight against COVID-19," Pelosi wrote on Wednesday. "With millions of lives at risk, the President is crippling the international effort to defeat the virus."

Screenshot of Pelosi's tweet posted on July 8, 2020.

The United States will leave the WHO on July 6, 2021, and currently it owes the organization more than 200 million U.S. dollars in assessed contributions, according to the WHO website.

The UN secretary-general has been in the process of verifying with the WHO if the U.S. meets all the conditions for its withdrawal, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Tuesday.

U.S. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said Tuesday he disagrees withTrump's decision.

"I disagree with the president's decision," said Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, adding that withdrawing U.S. membership would undermine the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and hamper U.S. cooperation with other countries to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"If the administration has specific recommendations for reform of the WHO, it should submit those recommendations to Congress, and we can work together to make those happen," he said in a statement.

Screenshot of Menendez's tweet posted on July 8, 2020.

"To call Trump's response to COVID chaotic and incoherent doesn't do it justice. This won't protect American lives or interests -- it leaves Americans sick and America alone," Senator Robert Menendez, top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Wednesday on Twitter.

By withdrawing from the WHO, Trump has further abdicated U.S. global leadership, Congressman Ami Bera, who represents California's 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, lamented on Twitter.

"His go-it-alone approach puts America's health and security at risk," he said Wednesday. Bera, a physician, also told local media that the United States and the WHO had worked "hand in hand" to eradicate smallpox and nearly defeat polio.

Screenshot of Menendez's series tweets posted on July 8, 2020.

"If the WHO is to blame: why has the U.S. been left behind while many countries from South Korea to New Zealand to Vietnam to Germany return to normal?" he said.

As global COVID-19 infections top 12 million, with a vaccine still not in sight, "withdrawal is counterintuitive at best and dangerous to human life at worst," Amanda Glassman, also executive vice president of the Center for Global Development think tank, told USA Today. "The U.S. Congress should immediately explore what power it has to prevent this from happening."

She noted that the probability of a high lethality strain of influenza in the next decade or so is also significant, which are more likely because of increased zoonotic transmission, adding that corrective measures at the WHO are needed and member states' staying engaged is necessary.

Screenshot of the article of USA Today published on July 7, 2020.

Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute Dr. Ashish Jha criticized the U.S. move to officially withdraw from the WHO on Tuesday, noting that its blame on WHO for not investigating the COVID-19 outbreak in China is "deeply disingenuous."

"I think it's an extraordinarily bad decision that will both harm global public health and harm the health of the American people," Jha was quoted as saying by the New York Times. "It's unclear to me how the American people benefit by not being at the table and not being able to shape those policies."

He added that Washington's blame on the organization for not investigating the COVID-19 outbreak in China is "deeply disingenuous."

"WHO can't push its way into China, any more than it can investigate why our outbreak is so bad in Arizona or why we're botching the response as badly as we are," the expert said.

Screenshot of the article of the New York Times published on July 7, 2020.

He also called on the White House to adhere to science, encourage people to wear masks and conduct social distancing as the country has reported more than 3 million COVID-19 cases with over 132,000 deaths, which are far higher than those in any other country or region, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University tally.

"There's been a lot of mixed messaging on masks and social distancing and so all of that has contributed to what I think is a perilous moment for our country," Jha said.

The United States has reported more than 3 million COVID-19 cases with over 132,000 deaths, which are far higher than those in any other country or region, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University tally.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly assailed the WHO for months and threatened to cut ties with the organization. Trump also announced in mid-April that his administration would halt U.S. funding to the WHO.■

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