Just hours after President Trump announced his intention to cut US funding to the World Health Organization, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda donated an additional $150 million to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $250 million to date since the outbreak began, starting with $100 million in February. The funds are intended to “support development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines; help strengthen African and South Asian health systems; and help mitigate the social and economic impacts of the virus.”
Gates came out sharply criticizing the president’s announcement on Wednesday, calling the halt of WHO funds “as dangerous as it sounds.”
Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) April 15, 2020
Following Wednesday’s announcement, Pres. Trump ordered a 60-day freeze on WHO funds from US. Some politicians criticized Gates’ message in response, including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who called Gates’ support of the WHO ignorant of “overwhelming evidence of China bias and incompetence” by the UN agency.
I have great respect for @BillGates and his work in the public health arena.
If someone like Bill Gates were in charge of the WHO I would gladly support increased funding, but I have lost all confidence in the current WHO leadership and capabilities.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) April 15, 2020
Gates has been very vocal in recent years about pandemic preparedness and response strategies. In a Washington Post op-ed penned in March, the American billionaire called for even stricter shelter-in-place guidelines and a total shutdown of the US economy. In 2015, Gates delivered a TED Talk entitled “The next outbreak? We’re not ready”.