US refuses to join international effort to develop Covid-19 vaccine

The US government has said that it will not participate in a global initiative to develop, manufacture and equitably distribute a vaccine for Covid-19 because the effort is co-led by the World Health Organization.

The Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (Covax) is a plan developed by the WHO, along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and is meant to accelerate the development and testing of a vaccine and work toward distributing it equally. The WHO announced last month that more than 170 countries were in talks to participate in Covax.

Asked to confirm a report in the Washington Post that the US will not be joining Covax, a White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said in a statement: “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.

“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.”

In a move decried by health experts, the Trump administration announced in May it was withdrawing from the WHO and cutting its funding to the organization. The US was the biggest funder of the organization, contributing $450m in membership dues and contributions to specific programs. Donald Trump alleged that the global health organization was controlled by Chinese influences.

Health experts say the US refusal to participate in Covax means that it is betting on the efficacy of its own vaccine development and encouraging other countries to do the same, which could potentially lead to hoarding of the vaccine and higher prices for doses.

Read the full article at The Guardian