Thursday, 16 April 2020

Bill Gates Hikes Coronavirus Contribution After Bashing Trump For Defunding WHO

The private foundation belonging to Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife announced a contribution of an additional $150 million toward fighting the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday — hours after the billionaire philanthropist was briefly drawn into partisan sniping over President Donald Trump’s actions during the unprecedented public health crisis.


“This is a unique situation; we are in a unique position to help,” Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement, adding that since the organization’s formation in 2000, “it does feel that the investments we’ve made, the expertise we’ve built, and experience we’ve gained over the last two decades has prepared us for this moment.”

The foundation previously pledged $100 million in February. The $250 million overall commitment is intended “to support the 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,” a news release from the foundation said.
Bill Gates Hikes Coronavirus Contribution After Bashing Trump For Defunding WHO
Bill Gates Hikes Coronavirus Contribution After Bashing Trump For Defunding WHO

The escalation in Gates’ charitable giving also follows his high-profile scolding of the Trump administration for ordering a 60-day freeze on the funding of the World Health Organization, a move that was met with alarm by the medical community and condemnation from international leaders.

“Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds,” Gates wrote on Twitter early Wednesday morning. “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.”
Gates’ message was shared widely on social media as outrage over Trump’s announcement intensified, prompting Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to single out the tech titan and his foundation in a statement of support for the White House’s directive.

“I have a lot of respect for Bill Gates and his work in the public health arena. The Gates Foundation, under Bill and Melinda’s leadership, has a reputation for investing in programs which are well-run and produce results,” Graham said. “However, Bill Gates’ decision to defend the performance of the WHO during the coronavirus crisis and current WHO leadership ignores overwhelming evidence of China bias and incompetence.”

The senator doubled down on his criticism Thursday, saying he had “lost confidence" in the WHO’s leadership and that the organization’s U.S. funding “will go to other people throughout the world to deal with health issues.”

But he also softened his rhetoric toward Gates. “If Bill Gates was in charge of the WHO, I would double the funding because I think we need a WHO. But he’s not," Graham told the hosts of ABC's “The View.”

The president’s allies have repeatedly accused the WHO in recent weeks of fealty to China and mismanagement of the early stages of the global coronavirus outbreak, while defenders of the United Nations agency have pointed to its important work in slowing the spread of the disease around the world.

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