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US won’t join COVAX coronavirus vaccine initiative because it is linked to the WHO

Published on 02/09/20 at 12:16pm
Photo by The White House

The US has said it will not participate in an international effort to develop and distribute a coronavirus vaccine.

COVAX is co-led by the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi.

It was announced last week that the initiative aims to work with vaccine manufacturers to provide equitable access to vaccines with 172 countries in discussions to participate. It aims to purchase two billion doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2021.  

The US’ decision not to participate was announced by White House Spokesperson Judd Deere. In a statement, he said: “The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organisations 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. 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.”

This announcement follows the US formally withdrawing from the WHO in July, which will take effect in July 2021. The Trump administration alleges that the organisation unfairly favours China and helped them downplay the initial outbreak of the virus.

The Trump administration previously requested to cut the amount of American funding for the WHO back in February, from $122.6 million to $57.9 million. America has historically been the largest funder of the WHO and provided it with $400 million in 2018-2019, which was just under 15% of its budget. 

In comparison, China only contributed $76 in this same period. In May, Trump announced the freeze to the US funding of the WHO, due to its alleged bias towards China, before announcing the withdrawal in July. 

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