In a historic move, President Donald Trump announced on Friday that the United States will terminate its relations with the World Health Organization and move funding to other organizations.
"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 during a statement in the White House Rose Garden. "The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency. Why is it that China shut off infected people from Wuhan to all other parts of China? It didn't go to Beijing, it went nowhere else, but they allowed them to freely travel throughout the world, including Europe and the United States."
According to a W.H.O. spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic, the agency's funding runs in two-year budget cycles, with the U.S. paying $237 million required for 2018-2019. The United States also provided a $656 million voluntary contribution, thus in total represents about 14.67% of the W.H.O.'s budget for that cycle. It is currently unclear how the Trump administration plans to halt Congressional funding of the agency.
Total Global Cases: Over 5.9 Million
Total Deaths: Over 364,000
Total Recovered: Over 2.65 Million
Outbreak Origin Studies
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Friday the U.S. government's most comprehensive study to date of the coronavirus's first outbreak in the country. The study was a collaboration between C.D.C. researchers and health officials in six states as well as genetics researchers and disease modelers, according to The Associated Press. The researchers concluded that the U.S. coronavirus epidemic likely started during a three-week window from mid-January to early February from China, before the country barred flights from China on January 31.
The study looked at four kinds of data to get a clearer picture of the initial outbreak: reported illnesses by hospitals across the country, about 11,000 respiratory samples collected in January and February, genetic analysis of virus samples from California, Washington and Northeastern patients, and a Californian autopsy.
The study identified the first U.S. infection to be a traveler in Washington state returning from a trip to Wuhan, China on January 15. He later sought medical attention for his infection on January 19.
A separate study released by the journal Science on Friday looked into the virus's introduction into New York City, the hardest-hit city in the United States. Researchers in this study pulled data from 84 patients in the Mount Sinai Health System between February 29 and March 18 and found multiple strains of the COVID-19 that were largely from Europe in the first weeks of March. The United States restricted travel from much of Europe on March 11.
"Patient safety is Sanofi's primary focus," the drugmaker issued in a statement, reported by CNBC. "In line with W.H.O.'s decision and out of caution, Sanofi has decided to temporarily suspend the recruitment of new patient in both of its clinical trials in COVID-19 patines, pending reassurance on the safety profile of [hydroxychloroquine]."
Yet, more than 100 scientists have questioned the authenticity of the hospital database that was the basis of the influential paper published in The Lancet that cause the W.H.O. to pause its study of the drug. According to The New York Times, scientists and other health officials asked the medial journal's editor Richard Horton and the paper's authors to provide more details about the data observed. The group also called for the W.H.O. or other institution to conduct its own independent validation on the study.