COVID-19: Was withdrawing from the WHO a foolish mistake?

As our nation gears up to celebrate another season of independence, it’s hard to imagine a more disheartening turn of events than this one: In case you haven’t heard, the United States has withdrawn from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Why this is happening during a global pandemic is anyone’s guess. Because there’s no question that we, as a planet, must come together if we are to have any hope of fighting this virus—and restoring some sense of normalcy to our lives in the wake of COVID-19.

But that’s exactly why it should terrify you. Because even if it seems like a good thing to withdraw from an agency that doesn’t always agree with us, it’s very dangerous for the U.S. to be alone in the world right now. Here’s why…

A “breathtakingly dangerous” move

Where once the world looked to us for leadership out of crises, now, all they see is a void. So for the foreseeable future, they’ll be collaborating together… and leaving us completely in the dark.

Again, some may celebrate this. But remember: Disease knows no borders. It knows no race or religion. Disease only knows how to kill and injure—and COVID-19 has proven to be particularly adept at both.

So, putting all political differences aside, here’s what leaving the WHO will mean for you…

For one thing, this would mark the first time that the U.S. government wasn’t involved in developing a seasonal flu vaccine for the Southern Hemisphere. (This is typically a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] and the WHO.) And while that might not sound like a major loss, consider the fact that it could also block our eventual access to a COVID-19 vaccine, should it be created overseas.

Sure, I’ve explained why we shouldn’t be hanging our hat on a vaccine as a magic bullet. But nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine not exercising our right to choose that route of protection, if we desire—or a situation where this wouldn’t be a disaster.

Not only that, but without the WHO keeping us in the loop, we could miss out on vital warnings about emerging foreign health threats that could make their way to our shores. And if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that being caught unprepared can be catastrophic.

Experts also worry that our withdrawal will set back ongoing initiatives to fight infectious disease—including a WHO program that is currently very close to eradicating polio.

But really, the fact that we’re doing this while we’re still very much in the grips of COVID-19 should be terrifying enough. As former CDC virologist Nancy Cox puts it: “To do this in the middle of a pandemic is breathtakingly dangerous.”

Filling the financial void

I may not always like what the WHO has to say—in fact, we often disagree. But do you really want to be left out of critical global network that we helped build, and which we benefit from each and every day? I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t…

For the last 15 years, we have invested in lab equipment and scientific training to construct WHO flu centers in more than 100 countries across the globe. These centers collect viral samples and investigate any emerging bugs that could result in new epidemics and pandemics down the line.

The American CDC hosts one of a handful of these centers, which collect and analyze data and sequence viral RNA. Meanwhile, our Food and Drug Administration (FDA) runs one of four different regulatory labs designed to guide vaccine makers.

By leaving the WHO, the CDC could lose their access to these data and viral samples, which offer Americans critical protection against lethal flu outbreaks. And that’s just for starters.

Let’s not forget that our leadership in global public health is important to all people, everywhere—not just Americans. According to the WHO, the cut in funding that comes with our withdrawal will impact childhood immunization, disease eradication, and other lifesaving programs in parts of the world that need them most.

So I ask, how could anyone think that it’s a remotely good idea for us to leave the WHO… especially now?

But of course, there’s one country that would love to see us leave—and that’s China. They have more than enough money to fill the financial void that we leave behind, and you can rest assured that they’ll do exactly that.

Our withdrawal from the WHO will give them greater influence in this arena than they’ve ever had before. And even if we were to rejoin next year, by then, there may be no turning back.

P.S. I’ll continue keeping you updated on all of the latest health news right here in my Reality Health Check, and in my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives. So, as always, be sure to stay tuned—and become a subscriber, if you haven’t already.


“Inside the Trump Administration’s Decision to Leave the World Health Organization.” ProPublica, 06/20/2020. (