Dr. Fauci to lead U.S. delegation at WHO meetings as Biden plans to reverse Trump withdrawal

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A photo taken in the late hours of May 29, 2020 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) at their headquarters in Geneva amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus.

Fabrice Coffirni | AFP | Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Dr. Anthony Fauci to lead a U.S. delegation at the World Health Organization’s annual meetings this week, reversing outgoing President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw from the international aid group.

The new administration plans to work with the WHO on an international Covid-19 response plan as one of Biden’s first major policy changes planned for his first day in office, the transition team announced hours before his inauguration Wednesday.

Fauci is scheduled to deliver remarks to WHO on Thursday at its annual executive board meetings, which are currently underway, according to Biden’s transition team.

“Once the United States resumes its engagement with the WHO, the Biden-Harris Administration will work with the WHO and our partners to strengthen and reform the organization, support the COVID-19 health and humanitarian response, and advance global health and health security,” the statement said.

Reengaging with WHO, which is the United Nation’s health organization, is among a litany of changes Biden plans to make to combat the Covid-19 pandemic raging throughout the country and across the world. He also plans to issue an executive order Wednesday “requiring masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands, and by federal employees and contractors.”

The changes will make good on one of Biden’s key campaign promises. He pledged to rejoin the global health agency on his first day in office if he defeated Trump, whose decision to leave the WHO as America faced the worst coronavirus outbreak of any country globally drew bipartisan criticism from lawmakers.

Trump announced the country would withdrawal from the United Nations health agency in late May, but the process wasn’t expected to become final until this July. Trump repeatedly criticized the WHO for being too “China-centric” and denounced the disproportionate amount of funding the U.S. allocated to the agency in comparison to other countries.

In April, Trump said his administration would suspend funding to the WHO while it reviewed the agency’s role in “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” The U.S. is the largest donor to the organization, providing the agency with nearly $893 million during the agency’s 2018 and 2019 budget cycle.

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.

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