Bill Gates steps in
International | The Microsoft founder pledges millions toward the pandemic after Trump defunds the WHO
by Mindy Belz
Posted 4/16/20, 02:48 pm
GLOBAL: President Donald Trump’s decision to defund the World Health Organization in the middle of the global fight against the coronavirus “is as dangerous as it sounds,” said Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder who has pledged $100 million toward containing the virus. Trump on Wednesday placed a hold on all U.S. funding to the WHO—more than $400 million each year or about 17 percent of its total budget— “while its mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic is investigated.”
Gates responded by pledging an additional $150 million from his private foundation to the pandemic fight. In a statement, the foundation said support would focus on “supporting countries in Africa and South Asia, developing and delivering treatments and vaccines, accelerating detection and containment of the virus, and protecting vulnerable communities in the United States.” Doctors I’ve spoken to this week in Africa and the Middle East said WHO support to under-resourced health infrastructures is critical at this time, as outbreaks are just beginning in those areas. Undercutting the WHO, said one, “is the last straw.”
CHINA: For six key days—Jan. 14–20—top Chinese officials knew they had a pandemic on their hands and failed to disclose it. Internal documents indicate the cover-up involved top leaders, including President Xi Jinping, who did not reveal the full extent of the outbreak to the public until Jan. 20.
JAPAN: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a national emergency after attempts to keep Japan running normally exposed residents to a spike in coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, the country reported 741 new cases, up from 267 the day before.
FRANCE has converted high-speed TGV trains into ambulances to transport COVID-19 patients from hard-hit cities to areas with available hospital beds.
BRITAIN: A 99-year-old World War II vet has raised more than $17 million for British healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus, simply by taking walks in his garden.
LIBYA: Migrants are again turning up dead or missing, as coast guards intercept vessels bound for Italy, which has closed its ports due to its coronavirus toll.
JORDAN: Behold Dune—in this scenic look at filming for the epic sci-fi movie based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel and due out in December—in the sands of Wadi Rum and outside Abu Dhabi.
UPCOMING: We are looking to report on the care and monitoring for COVID-19 that the elderly receive in countries also with euthanasia policies, like Belgium, which is running the highest death rate in the world. Please send tips or contacts. Also, I am hearing from a supplier of personal protective equipment that appears ready to aggregate orders to medical facilities in Africa and elsewhere with specific needs and limited resources. Email me if you are a candidate.
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Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.