The World Health Organisation's special envoy on coronavirus has blasted Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the global body in the midst of a pandemic.
Dr David Nabarro warned that the coronavirus crisis 'is going to get much worse in the next six months' and that world leaders need to 'work together' on solutions.
'[This] is frankly not what the world's people need,' he said.
The effect of Trump's withdrawal will be felt in the WHO's budget, he said, which is already 'underfunded' and counts on the US for 15 per cent of its annual spending.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he said: 'I'm really sad. The world has been facing a massive health crisis for the last six months and I fear it's going to get much worse in the next six months.
'We've still got a lot to find out about this virus and how to deal with it it seem extremely unfortunate that the most important country to the WHO in terms of the budget has decided to pull out.
'I'm sad really also for the american people who I'm sure by and large want to be part of the global response and will be a bit confused about why this has happened.
'It will have a budget impact. The WHO is underfunded runs on one third of the budget of the US Centres for Disease Control and it's working flat out.
'But the more serious issue is that all world leaders and all world nations must work together to deal this virus and to have the US pulling out is frankly not what the world's people need.'
Dr Nabarro, who is also a professor of global health at London's Imperial College, spoke out after the White House formally informed Congress of its decision to withdraw from the WHO on Tuesday.
It comes two months after President Trump used a Rose Garden speech to blast the organisation for failing to warn the world of the threat of coronavirus while pandering to China.
The move will not take effect until July 2021, after the presidential election, and can be reversed up until that point.
Asked about WHO bias, Dr Nabarro admitted that the organisation is affected by 'push and pull' from countries and leaders, all of whom have different agendas.
But he denied wholesale bias, especially in the case of Taiwan which does not have a seat at the WHO table largely because of pressure from China.
Taiwanese doctors say they warned about the seriousness of coronavirus last year even as China downplayed it, but were ignored by the health body.
Dr Nabarro said the WHO is in constant communication with Taiwan, though offered no explanation as to why their warning was not heeded.
He added: 'The people inside the WHO do not sit and have favourite countries.
'They deal with the issues that come up as best as they can and this is a huge issue and needs every country involved.'
Coronavirus has now infected 11.8million people globally and killed 544,000, and is still accelerating - with record numbers of daily cases being reported.
The US has almost 3million of those cases with daily infection totals hitting all-time highs in recent days, while more than 130,000 Americans have died - greater than the entire population of Santa Clara, California.
The disease is also running rampant in South America, where Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tested positive on Tuesday.
His country has 1.6million cases, the highest total after the US, and 66,000 deaths.
Senator Robert Mendendez, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, revealed on Twitter that Trump had notified congress of the withdrawal, while blasting the decision as shortsighted and risky.
'Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic,' he wrote.
'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.'
The administration also told the UN Secretary General, an administration official told Fox News. The move would take effect July 2021 – which in theory would give Trump or Democrat Joe Biden, who is leading in the polls, the chance to roll it back.
Trump blasted the WHO this spring as he shocked U.S. and world officials when he announced the move.
He said the WHO had failed to make 'greatly needed reforms,' and said the U.S. would divert funds to other global health organizations.
The move drew pushback even from prominent Republicans, who have called out some missteps by the WHO but nevertheless saw the benefit in having a global health group tending to issues like COVID-19, Malaria, and Ebola.
U.S. officials have hammered WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for praising China for its 'transparency' early in the outbreak.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.