Gordon Brown has described Donald Trump’s decision to withhold funding from the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as an ‘act of self harm’ as figures across the world fail to rally around the president’s claim the body has been responsible for spreading Chinese disinformation.

The US president, who has laid increasing blame for the epidemic in his country at the foot of China and the WHO amid claims his response had been delayed and haphazard, announced his administration would be launching an investigation into the UN body on Tuesday.

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Now Mr Brown has said that the ongoing global pandemic can only be solved by a global solution – with the former British PM noting the US president had agreed to strengthening the organisation just days before he launched his attack on the health body.

“What some people will call the sabotage of the World Health Organisation is actually an act of self harm on the part of America” he said in an interview with BBC’s Hardtalk programme, “because to deal with this locally, in any country, we’ve got to act globally.”

He added: “If the World Health Organisation did not exist it would have to be created. It’s our duty to try to persuade the Americans that this type of solidarity is actually in their self interest. 

“And I do believe that president Trump realised that when he signed up to the G20 declaration on 26 March, which actually said all these things – that he wanted to strengthen the WHO, that he wanted to give it more resources for preparedness and dealing with the problems of  developing countries, the search for a vaccine and everything.

“President Trump actually signed up to that on 26 March, and he should be held to that by his G20 colleagues.”

In the wake of Mr Trump’s decision, Downing Street confirmed it had “no plans” to stop funding the organisation.

While not commenting on the US president’s decision, a spokesperson for Boris Johnson said the WHO had an “important role” in the global response to coronavirus and it was “essential” for countries to work together

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It comes after the WHO said that while it regretted Mr Trump’s decision, its focus would not be drawn by the president’s bluster.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference that the United States “has been a long-standing and generous friend of the WHO, and we hope it will continue to be so.”

“WHO is reviewing the impact on our work of any withdrawal of US funding and we will work with partners to fill any gaps and ensure our work continues uninterrupted,” Mr Tedros added

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