President Donald Trump announced in a letter to the World Health Organization that he would permanently suspend their contributions from the United States if they did not drastically restructure, citing reports from a top medical journal that he says the WHO ignored.
But on Tuesday, that medical journal, The Lancet, said that the president was “factually incorrect” about the reports that they published.
In his letter on Monday, Trump noted that he put a temporary freeze on WHO contributions in mid-April after frustrations about the agency’s response to the coronavirus and listed a number of findings.
The first of those findings claimed:
“The World Health Organization consistently of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019, or even earlier, according to reports from the Lancet medical journal. The WHO failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts, even those that came from sources within Wuhan itself.”
This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory! pic.twitter.com/pF2kzPUpDv— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020
The Lancet shot down the president’s statement that they were publishing reports on the Wuhan in early December.
The medical journal wrote, “This statement is factually incorrect. The Lancet published no report in December, 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China. The first reports that the journal published were on January 24, 2020.”
The Lancet also noted that the first studies were from scientists and physicians connected to Chinese institutions and that “they worked with us to quickly make information about this new epidemic outbreak and the disease it caused fully and freely available to an international audience.”
The journal also criticized Trump more directly, writing, “The allegations leveled against the WHO in President Trump’s letter are serious and damaging to efforts to strengthen international cooperation to control this pandemic. It is essential that any review of the global response is based on a factually accurate account of what took place in December and January.”
Statement from The Lancet in response to President Donald Trump’s May 18 letter to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization pic.twitter.com/JX8orfpMPB— The Lancet (@TheLancet) May 19, 2020
This is not the first time that The Lancet responded to Trump. In an editorial this week, the journal criticized the president’s attacks on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, writing, “Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.”