Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Coronavirus vaccine, WHO and the United States.
The Trump administration claims that it will not join a global effort to develop, manufacture and equitably distribute a coronavirus vaccine, in part because the World Health Organization is involved. This decision that could shape the course of the pandemic and the country’s role in health diplomacy.
Co-led by the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, was of interest to some of the members of the Trump administration and is backed by traditional U.S. allies, including Japan, Germany and the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union.
United States will not participate, in part because the White House does not want to work with the WHO, which President Trump has criticized over what he characterized as its “China centric” response to the pandemic.
Kendall Hoyt, an assistant professor at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, said the move was akin to opting out of an insurance policy.
The United States could be pursuing bilateral deals with drug companies and simultaneously participating in Covax, Hoyt said, increasing its odds of getting some doses of the first safe vaccine. “Just from a simple risk-management perspective, this decision is shortsighted, she said. The U.S. move will also shape what happens elsewhere. The idea behind Covax is to discourage hoarding and focus on vaccinating high risk people in every country first, a strategy that could lead to better health outcomes and lower costs, according to experts
More than 170 countries are in talks to participate in the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) Facility, which aims to speed vaccine development, secure doses for all countries and distribute them to the most high risk segment of each population.
Some members of the Trump administration were interested in a more cooperative approach but were ultimately overruled.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun had interest in exploring some type of role in Covax, according to a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the decision making process.
An unlikely worst case scenario, experts said, is that none of the U.S. vaccine candidates are viable, leaving the United States with no option because it has shunned the Covax effort.
There is a possibility is that a U.S. vaccine does pan out, but the country hoards doses, vaccinating a large number of Americans, including those at low risk, while leaving other countries without.