The United States publicized on Tuesday that it will not participate in Covax, an international alliance to research on Covid-19 vaccine and distribute it worldwide. Covax, being co-led by the World Health Organization, became the reason for forbearing.
The decision follows the White House’s pronouncement in July to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization. President Donald Trump asserts that the WHO is “very China-centric” in its approach to the pandemic and need for reform. The U.S. froze its funding on the organization.
“When the U.S. says it is not going to participate in any sort of multilateral effort to secure vaccines, it’s a real blow.”Suerie Moon, the co-director of the Global Health Center at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.
“The behavior of countries when it comes to vaccines in this pandemic will have political repercussions beyond public health,” Moon added. The repercussions could also include the global economy to collapse.
The Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) Facility has more than 170 participating countries, aiming to speed the development of vaccines to distribute on the most high-risk segment of their country’s population. On the other hand, the U.S. is firm in its decision not to participate in the coalition because the White House does not want to work with the WHO.
“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.”White House Spokesperson Judd Deere
Despite this firm decision, some members of the Trump Administration are interested in the Covax movement. The traditional U.S. allies such as Japan, Germany, and the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, support them.
In a news report, a senior administration official exposed that “Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun had an interest in exploring some type of role in Covax.”
Moreover, the Trump administration’s decision to not participate in the Covax was “shortsighted and will hamper the battle to end the pandemic” for Ami Bera, the U.S. Representative for California’s 7th congressional district.
Some U.S. professionals also seem unsupportive of the decision.
“America is taking a huge gamble by taking a go-it-alone strategy”Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University
J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, expressed how self-defeating it is “for the U.S. to terminate its relationship with the WHO in the middle of a pandemic is going to create an endless stream of self-defeating moments.”