World Health Organization Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pulled out of a London event at the last minute on Wednesday after organizers said he had to attend meetings linked to the U.S. notification of its withdrawal from the WHO.
The event at London’s Chatham House think tank had been due to feature Tedros in a live webinar about the COVID-19 pandemic led by David Heymann, a former senior WHO official and a professor of global health.
Heymann told the online event: “I have been in touch with his [Tedros’s] office on another issue [this morning], and I was told he has a series of diplomatic meetings today which is the result of the U.S. withdrawal.”
Tedros’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The United States confirmed on Tuesday that it will leave the WHO on July 6, 2021. President Donald Trump has accused the agency of becoming a puppet for China during the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO denies this.