US says it won’t join WHO-linked effort to develop, distribute COVID-19 vaccine

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The Trump administration has said it won’t join a global effort to develop, manufacture and equitably distribute a coronavirus vaccine, in part because the World Health Organisation is involved, according to a report in the Washington Post. This comes as part of Washington’s plan to not work with the WHO, which President Donald Trump has criticised over what he characterized as its “China-centric” response to the pandemic. 

As many as 170 countries are in talks to take part in the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) Facility that aims to speed vaccine development, secure doses for all countries and distribute them. The plan, co-led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, was of interest to some members of the Trump administration. It is also backed by traditional U.S. allies including Japan, Germany and the European Commission. 

“The United States will continue to engage our intrnational partners to ensure we defeat the virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organisations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organisation and China,” Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. 

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, was of the view that America was taking a huge gamble by taking a go-it-alone strategy. On the other hand, Kendall Hoyt, an assistant professor at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, opined that the move was akin to opting out of an insurance policy. Hoyt said that the U.S. could be pursuing bilateral deals with drug companies and simultaneously participating in Covax, increasing its odds of getting some doses of the first safe vaccine. 

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