White House counselor Kellyanne Conway criticized the World Health Organization on Wednesday morning while misleadingly quipping that COVID-19 refers to the number of times the novel coronavirus has appeared rather than the year it was discovered.
A day after President Donald Trump announced that he was ordering his administration to halt funding to WHO while accusing the organization of causing deaths by “covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” Conway appeared on the president’s favorite morning show to back Trump’s actions.
After Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy noted that the president wants to suspend payments to the WHO for apparently peddling Chinese disinformation on the virus, Conway blasted the international group for being dishonest early on about the origins of the virus.
“So this is about transparency and accountability because we have been so hard hit in this country and we were listening to the health professionals around the world,” she huffed.
The senior Trump aide went on to praise the president for taking “decisive and immediate action” by instituting a partial Chinese travel restriction in late January, attacking WHO for criticizing the move at the time while taking issue with the organization’s own actions towards the virus. (Trump’s travel ban still allowed tens of thousands of travelers to come into the U.S. from China.)
Conway then implied that there have been many other variations of this particular coronavirus, while seemingly suggesting that WHO should have been more on top of it.
“Some of the scientists and doctors say there could be other strains later on this, this could come back in the fall in a limited way,” Conway declared. “This is COVID-19, not COVID-1, folks. You would think that people charged with the World Health Organization facts and figures would be on top of that.”
One would think that a senior administration official, however, would know that the name COVID-19 doesn’t stand for the 19th version of the virus but instead the year it was discovered. The World Health Organization announced the name on February 11, noting at the time that it stands for coronavirus disease from the year 2019.
“But people should know the facts,” Conway concluded.
Moments later, during a separate appearance on Maria Bartiromo’s Fox Business Network show, Conway revealed that she, in fact, knows that the name of the virus refers to the year it was discovered.
“It’s called COVID-19 because that’s the year, that’s the year, not COVID-20,” she exclaimed while blasting WHO for supposedly acting too slowly.