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Following President Trump's announcement the U.S. will halt funding to the World Health Organization as it reviews how it has handled the coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates criticized the decision, saying it "is as dangerous as it sounds."
"Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds," Gates tweeted Wednesday morning. "Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever."
Gates, who is worth some $104 billion, according to Forbes, has focused nearly all of his energy on public health responses since he announced in March he was stepping down from the board of directors of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to focus on philanthropy.
In February, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed up to $100 million to help fight against the virus, $20 million of which went toward groups such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the WHO.
Earlier this month, Gates told “Fox News Sunday” the current pandemic is “a nightmare scenario,” but said social distancing and a strong national response can keep casualties low. At the time, the U.S. was projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from COVID-19 before the outbreak is under control.
To date, 26,059 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In mid-March, Gates said a potential shutdown of a country could last between 6 to 10 weeks if all goes well, but added testing is crucial.
On Tuesday, Trump said the U.S. would halt funding to the WHO while it undergoes a 60-to-90 day investigation into the organization, saying it had put "political correctness over lifesaving measures."
The U.S. is the WHO's largest single donor, and the State Department had previously planned to provide the agency with $893 million in the current two-year funding period. Trump said the U.S. contributes roughly $400 to $500 million per year to WHO, while China offers only about $40 million. The money saved will go to areas that "most need it," Trump asserted.
"We have deep concerns over whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible," Trump said, accusing the WHO of failing to adequately keep the international community apprised of the threat of the coronavirus.
"The WHO failed in this duty, and must be held accountable," Trump went on. He added that the WHO had ignored "credible information" in December 2019 that the virus could be transmitted from human to human.
As of Wednesday morning, nearly 2 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, including more than 609,000 of which are in the U.S., the most impacted country on the planet.
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer and Gregg Re contributed to this story.