DONALD TRUMP says he is set to halt US funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) amid concerns over their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at his daily briefing, the US President accused the UN agency of "mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus".
He told the press that the WHO had "failed in its basic duty" and was biased towards China.
"I am directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," Mr Trump said.
The US has suffered the most cases and deaths from coronavirus worldwide with an estimated 600,000 cases and 26,000 casualties.
Trump said the WHO had failed to effectively assess the serious of the initial coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, late last year.
"With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible," he said.
"Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China's lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death," he told reporters.
"This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage. Instead, the WHO willingly took China's assurances to face value... and defended the actions of the Chinese government."
The US represents the WHO’s biggest financial backer.
Over 2018-19 alone, they provided $400m (£316m) in funding.
China, by comparison, provided $76m in assessed contributions and about $10m in voluntary funding,
The organisation’s second-largest funder, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has expressed concern over the news.
Gates wrote on Twitter: "Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds."
The WHO recently launched an appeal for an additional $1bn in funding to help tackle the pandemic.
The President also used the press conference to confirm plans to reopen the US were "close to being finalised".