The Trump administration’s strained relationship with the World Health Organization is taking a toll on the global fight against COVID-19. And now it appears the U.S. won’t be involved at all in a potential WHO vaccine for the coronavirus.
On Sept. 1, the White House said it had declined to join 170 other countries in a COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility that aims to expedite vaccine development and equitably distribute it worldwide, according to the Washington Post.
Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, said in a statement the decision was made in part because the WHO is a co-leader of the initiative.
“The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” Deere said. “This president will spare no expense to ensure that any new vaccine maintains our own FDA’s gold standard for safety and efficacy, is thoroughly tested, and saves lives.”
The U.S. formally left the WHO on July 6 after Trump criticized the organization for being too slow in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and for being “too China-centric.”
At the time, experts who were critical of Trump’s decision told NPR they were concerned leaving the WHO would mean the U.S. would lose access to the world’s best health experts and that it would put Americans’ health at risk.
But Deere said the White House is fully confident in its own approaches to fighting COVID-19, including Operation Warp Speed—this week, some experts also expressed concern that the Trump administration will pressure the FDA to approve a vaccine that hasn’t fully been vetted.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, vaccine and therapeutic research, development, and trials have advanced at unprecedented speed to deliver groundbreaking, effective medicines driven by data and safety and not held back by government red tape,” Deere said.
The Post reported that the Trump Administration’s “go it alone” strategy may negatively impact Americans. If none of the U.S. vaccines in development turn out to be viable, American citizens will not have the option to lean on international vaccine development.
Even if the U.S. does have a vaccine, the economy will be negatively affected if the global economy and its complex supply chains cannot bounce back because of shutdowns.
“We will continue to suffer the economic consequences—lost U.S. jobs—if the pandemic rages unabated in allies and trading partners,” Thomas J. Bollyky, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the director of its global health program, told the Post.
According to its website, COVAX offers vaccine doses for at least 20% of a country’s population, a diverse portfolio of vaccines, doses delivered as soon as they are available, and assistance in rebuilding economies.
“As well as reducing the tragic loss of life and helping to get the pandemic under control, introduction of a vaccine will prevent the loss of $375 billion to the global economy every month,” the website says. “Global equitable access to a vaccine, particularly protecting health care workers and those most-at-risk is the only way to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.”
Read more on the coronavirus vaccine:
- Would the U.S. approve a COVID-19 vaccine before we know if it’s safe?
- How the anti-vax movement could ruin the chances for a successful coronavirus vaccine
- Experts say most people won’t be able to get a coronavirus vaccine for many months
- Can the government (or your employer) force you to get a coronavirus vaccination?
- Russia says it has developed a coronavirus vaccine, but experts are suspicious
- Will the coronavirus vaccine be free for Americans?
- The coronavirus vaccine will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make—here’s why
- Until now, what’s the quickest a vaccine has ever been developed?