In the wake of America's official departure from the World Health Organization, a former senior director at the U.N. health agency predicted that other countries, particularly Germany, would likely step in to fill any void left by the single-biggest financial contributor.
At a briefing on Wednesday morning, Dr. David Heymann, a former assistant WHO director-general and an American, said he was "very disappointed" at the U.S. decision to exit the agency.
He says the U.S. has been behind incredibly important activities at WHO, noting it was the U.S. and its Cold War enemy Russia that spearheaded the global initiative to eradicate smallpox.
Heymann said, however, that WHO would likely just get on with its work.
He says Germany has become an important partner in global health recently and other countries are stepping up as well.
He says: "As much as it would be terrible if the U.S. leaves WHO and leaves [with] that expertise it has provided throughout the years, the WHO would continue to function."
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had also been scheduled to appear at the briefing, but pulled out moments before it began. Heymann dismissed the idea that Tedros was unwilling to face questions over the U.S. departure.