The US will pay more than $200 million in dues to the World Health Organization (WHO) as it reverses former US President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the health authority, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.
The funds, which include assessed and current financial obligations, will be paid by the end of the month, Blinken told the UN Security Council as it discussed the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a key step forward in fulfilling our financial obligations as a WHO member,” he said. “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.”
Additionally, the Biden administration is planning to provide “significant financial support” to the UN’s COVAX vaccine program, Blinken added.
Trump opted to unilaterally withdraw the US from the WHO in 2020 amid disagreements about its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, accusing it of working in lockstep with China and making deadly missteps early on in the outbreak.
Blinken acknowledged that the organization needs significant reform, but said US support is vital as it plays a key role in fighting the pandemic. He stressed that an upcoming expert report from the WHO on the virus’ origins “must be independent, with findings based on science and facts and free from interference,” in a likely reference to China.
“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, all countries must make available all data from the earliest days of any outbreak,” he said. “And going forward, all countries should participate in a transparent and robust process for preventing and responding to health emergencies, so the world learns as much as possible as soon as possible.”