WHO head says he will keep leading virus fight after Trump threat

The World Health Organization’s head has said he would keep leading the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut off funding and quit the body.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday defended the agency’s role after the United States again withheld full support for a resolution passed by member states on the pandemic.

“We want accountability more than anyone,” Tedros told a virtual meeting of the WHO’s 194 member states. “We will continue providing strategic leadership to coordinate the global response.”

Washington allowed the resolution calling for a review of the global response to the pandemic to pass by consensus, but said it objected to language about reproductive health rights and permission for poor countries to waive patent rules.

WHO officials running the meeting clapped and cheered after the resolution was passed without a vote hours after Trump tweeted his threat to pull the US out of the body.

It calls for a review of the WHO-led global response, something the US has demanded.

But the US mission in Geneva said in a statement that paragraphs on the right of poor countries to waive patents to obtain medicine during a health emergency would “send the wrong message to innovators” trying to produce new drugs and vaccines.

The reproductive healthcare language could be interpreted as requiring countries to permit abortion. “The United States believes in legal protections for the unborn,” it said.

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