The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday stopped short of commenting on a recent US decision to officially withdraw from the UN organization at the height of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The UN office in Geneva said the office of the Secretary-General had been notified by the US that it planned to withdraw from the WHO effective July 6, 2021.

“The Secretary-General, in his capacity as depositary, is in the process of verifying with the World Health Organization whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met,” it said in a statement.

The WHO, which employs several high-ranking American doctors and scientists said it had no further information and would not comment further.

Germany’s Health Minister, Jens Spahn, who recently said his country would add $500 billion of EU money to the WHO’s coffers after a visit to Geneva, tweeted that the US withdrawal was “a setback for international cooperation.”

“Global infection dynamics show that coordinated action is required. We need more international cooperation to fight pandemics, not less. European states will initiate WHO reforms,” said Spahn, whose country currently holds the EU presidency.

Domestic opposition

A top member of the Democratic Party in the US criticized President Donald Trump’s response to the novel coronavirus and its withdrawal from the WHO as isolating Americans.

“Congress received a notification that POTUS [president of the US] officially withdrew the US from the WHO in the midst of a pandemic,” Senator Robert Menendez said on Twitter.

“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” said Menendez, who represents New Jersey.

The US move concluded months of withdrawal threats made by Trump, claiming the organization was slow to respond to the pandemic as it originated in Wuhan, China.

According to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University, the US is the worst-hit country by the pandemic with almost 3 million cases and over 131,000 fatalities. In all, more than 924,000 recoveries have been recorded.

Worldwide, cases of the disease have exceeded 11.8 million, including over 544,000 coronavirus-related deaths and more than 6.4 million recoveries.

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