The U.S. government has announced that the country will not be joining the Covax initiative led by the World Health Organization(WHO).
The Covax initiative is a global coronavirus initiative response, co-led by WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, per Forbes. Basically, the aim of this joint effort is to acquire 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines from a variety of vaccine makers.
The goal here is to be able to distribute the vaccine worldwide by the end of 2021. Other countries, such as the European Commission, has pledged its participation to the Covax initiative. Accordingly, 172 countries are getting involved, and that excludes the United States.
Urgent, broadscale commitment & investment from countries is🔑to achieve the goal of COVAX to bring the pandemic under control by accelerating the development & manufacture of #COVID19 vaccines, & to guarantee fair & equitable access for all countries🌐
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) August 24, 2020
U.S. government keen distancing from WHO
President Donald Trump has been vocal about his dissent on the UN specialized agency. He has long been accusing WHO of being heavily influenced by China. Back in May, Trump has announced terminating its relationship with the said agency.
BBC quotes Trump, saying, “China has total control over the World Health Organization.” The same sentiment was echoed by White House spokesperson Judd Deere, in a statement.
CNN quotes Deere’s statement:
“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.
“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 White House announced the US would not join a global effort to accelerate the development + distribution of a COVID-19 Vaccine through a multilateral platform called "COVAX"
Their reason? The @WHO supports COVAX.
A brief thread on what COVAX is and why it matters
— Mark Leon Goldberg (@MarkLGoldberg) September 1, 2020
There have been wild criticisms on WHO’s independency, per CNN. A few of the points that are to be noted are the agency’s praises to China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has long been dubbing the COVID-19, the “China virus,” or the “Chinese virus.”
At some point, he called it the “Kung Flu,” which only paved more criticism towards him for being racist.
Meanwhile, the European Commission already has 400 million euros, with Germany joining the global initiative as well.
A true moment of global solidarity: @EU_Commission will provide €400 mil. in guarantees to #COVAX to buy & deliver vaccines to low & middle-income countries. Together we make all efforts to speed up development & delivery of coronavirus vaccines to Europeans & rest of the world. pic.twitter.com/BnX3Ph8jfS
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) August 31, 2020
U.S. government’s own Operation Warp Speed
Instead of joining the Covax global project, the Trump administration has its own initiative on the pipeline. This the Operation Warp Speed.
According to Fox News, the government “stockpiled hundreds of thousands of doses of coronavirus vaccines.” There are already three vaccines underway, as confirmed by Deputy chief of staff, Paul Mango, of the Health and Human Services.
The Phase 3 trials are set to happen in mid-September.
Fox News highlights that this “ambitious” program is worth $10 billion and was unveiled some time in mid-May. It aims to distribute the coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.
Featured image courtesy of Jonathan Simcoe/Unsplash