President Donald Trump has accused the World Health Organization of enabling China to cover up the origins of COVID-19. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo
July 7 (UPI) -- The Trump administration sent formal notice to Congress and the United Nations on Tuesday that the United States is withdrawing from the World Health Organization.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., announced Congress' receipt of the notification "in the midst of a pandemic."
"To call [President Donald] Trump's response to [COVID-19] chaotic & incoherent doesn't do it justice," he tweeted. "This won't protect American lives or interests -- it leaves Americans sick & America alone."
A senior administration official confirmed the notice was sent to the United Nations, which operates WHO.
"The United States' notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the U.N. secretary-general, who is the depository for the WHO," the official told The New York Times.
Trump announced his plans to cut ties with WHO in May, accusing the agency of enabling China to cover up the origins of the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 540,000 people and sickened 11.7 million as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has been the hardest hit by the virus, with 130,900 deaths and 2.9 million confirmed cases.
WHO member countries are required to give a one-year notice before fully withdrawing from the agency.
The United States was the largest financial contributor to WHO in 2018-19. The United States dedicated $893 million for the two-year budget cycle, about $300 million more than donated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The next largest government contributor was Britain, at $435 million.
China dedicated about $80 million in the same time period.
"China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year," Trump said in May.
China has balked at the United States' allegations that it covered up the origins of the virus, often pointing to praise from the WHO as proof of its openness and strong response.