Trump threatens to permanently freeze WHO funding after saying he's taking unproven hydroxychloroquine drug

Trump says he is taking the drug as a preventive measure "because I think it's good."
Image: SWITZERLAND-HEALTH-EPIDEMIC-VIRUS-WHO
The WHO has come under fire for its handling of the pandemic. As of Tuesday morning 134 countries backed a draft resolution that calls for an "an impartial, independent and comprehensive" evaluation of the WHO's response to the global health crisis.Fabrice Coffrini / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump volleyed more threats at the World Health Organization after admitting that he's taking an unproven drug as a preventive measure against COVID-19, despite FDA warnings against its use.

Here's what we're watching this Tuesday morning.


Trump threatens to permanently halt WHO funding if changes aren’t made within 30 days

In a letter addressed to World Health Organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, President Trump laid out allegations of "missteps" in the way the agency responded to the coronavirus pandemic and accused the organization of an "alarming lack of independence from the People's Republic of China."

The president threatened to permanently cut off funding to the international organization and reconsider U.S. membership in it if WHO "does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days."

The letter comes midway through the World Health Assembly which is meant to be focused on international cooperation in response to the global coronavirus crisis, but has been marred by a blame game over the handling of the pandemic and tensions between the U.S. and China.

While Trump threatened to withdraw the organization's biggest source of funding, China pledged an extra $2 billion to deal with the crisis on Monday.


Trump won’t wear a mask, but he’s taking an unproven drug to prevent COVID-19

Trump said Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an unproven treatment for COVID-19 that he has vigorously promoted.

"I happen to be taking it," Trump said at the White House Monday. "I'm taking it — hydroxychloroquine — right now."

The president said that he doesn't believe he was exposed to the virus but that he decided to take the drug after having consulted with the White House physician.

He also claimed that essential workers, including doctors and nurses, were taking the drug to prevent contracting the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The antimalarial drug is unproven as a treatment for the coronavirus, and the FDA has warned against its use outside hospital settings because of a risk of serious heart problems.

Pressed by reporters on why he was using an unproven therapeutic, Trump replied: "Because I think it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories."


Trump admin taps startup to build nation's 1st stockpile of key drug ingredients

Seeking to secure the nation's supply of critical medications, the Trump administration has signed a $354 million contract that would create the nation's first strategic stockpile of key ingredients needed to make medicines.

The goal is twofold: to enable the U.S. to manufacture essential drugs at risk of shortage and to create a reserve of active pharmaceutical ingredients to reduce the dependence on foreign suppliers.

Meantime, a COVID-19 vaccine candidate has shown positive results in its first human trials.

Moderna, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company that manufactured the vaccine, said it can prompt an immune response in the human body, and was also found to be safe and well-tolerated in a small group of patients.

While the results are still early, Wall Street soared on the news of a possible vaccine by a U.S. drugmaker Monday, closing 900 points higher.


White House portrait ceremony may be the latest casualty of the political divide

It's been a White House tradition for decades: a first-term president hosts his immediate predecessor in the East Room for a ceremony to unveil the portrait of the former president that will hang in the halls of the White House for posterity.

Republican presidents have done it for Democratic presidents, and vice versa — even when one of them ascended to the White House by defeating or sharply criticizing the other.

Yet this modern ritual won't be taking place between Obama and Trump, according to people familiar with the matter, NBC News' Carol E. Lee reports.


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Quote of the day

"Either we stand together or we fall apart."

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres calling for international unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic during his opening address to the World Health Assembly.


One fun thing

You've gotta see this one to believe it.

A Maryland bar and grill has found a novel way to help keep people six feet apart while socializing.

Bumper tables.


Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

Please send me any comments or questions you have on the newsletter: petra@nbcuni.com

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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra Cahill