UK pledges 200 million to WHO and charities in aftermath of Trumps threat to freeze US financial support for watchdog

In a move that Washington may interpret as a snub by one of its closest allies, the UK has gotten its checkbook out for the World Health Organisation, just days after Donald Trump threatened to cut the watchdog’s funding.

The UK announced on Sunday that it is pledging £200 million ($248 million) to the WHO and various charities in a bid to stop a second wave of Covid-19 hitting Britain.

“Coronavirus does not respect country borders, so our ability to protect the British public will only be effective if we strengthen the healthcare systems of vulnerable developing countries too,” International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.

The global health body said it is “deeply grateful” to the UK for the generous contribution, describing it as a “strong statement that this is a global threat that demands a global response.”

The injection of funds comes after a bruising week for the WHO, which was forced to defend its response to the coronavirus pandemic after US President Donald Trump launched a blistering attack on the United Nations agency.  

Trump accused the body of being “China-centric”, despite the US being the WHO’s biggest single donor, contributing around one fifth of the organization’s budget over the last two years.

Britain’s backing of the WHO is made particularly interesting by the fact that it is seeking a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, with negotiations set to begin in earnest once the pandemic has passed.

The announcement of the aid also came as the UK faces a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff and the death toll among National Health Service (NHS) staff continues to rise.

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