The US under President Joe Biden intends to join the Covax vaccine facility that aims to deliver vaccines to poor countries, the President’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci told the WHO on Thursday.
“The US also intends to fulfil its financial obligations” to the WHO, Fauci said in a speech via a video link. “The US sees technical collaboration on all levels as a fundamental part of our relationship with the WHO, one we value deeply and look to strengthen going forward,” he said.
“President Biden will issue a directive later on Wednesday which will include the intent of the United States to join Covax and support the ACT-Accelerator to advance multilateral efforts for Covid-19 vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic distribution, equitable access, and research and development,” he added.
Meanwhile, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed Fauci’s announcement to the WHO Executive Board, saying: “This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health.”
The first batches of coronavirus vaccines are expected to go to poorer countries in February under the Covax scheme run by the WHO and the GAVI vaccine alliance, WHO officials said this week, even as they raise concerns that richer countries are still grabbing the lion’s share of available shots.
Fauci’s address initiates a campaign to re-engage with allies snubbed by his predecessor. The United Nations agency was a frequent target of former President Donald Trump, who accused it of being lax on China and failing to provide accurate information about the virus.
Biden reversed Trump’s decision to exit the WHO on his first day in office as the US death toll from Covid exceeded 400,000, higher than any other country.
The United States will remain a member of the WHO and “fulfill its financial obligations”, Fauci said, adding it would also work with the other 193 member states on reforming the UN agency.