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Shunning Global Coalition, U.S. to Go It Alone on Covid-19 Vaccine

Trump’s beef with the WHO endangers global public health

Senior Clinical Research Nurse Ajithkumar Sukumaran prepares the COVID 19 vaccine to administer to a volunteer, at a clinic in London, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Scientists at Imperial College London are immunizing hundreds of people with an experimental coronavirus vaccine in an early trial after seeing no worrying safety problems in a small number vaccinated so far. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Senior Clinical Research Nurse Ajithkumar Sukumaran prepares the COVID 19 vaccine to administer to a volunteer, at a clinic in London, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Images

The Trump administration is blocking the United States from participating in a worldwide Covid-19 vaccine coalition, isolating America as the rest of civilization coordinates its response to this global pandemic.

The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration will not cooperate in Covax — the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility — which has linked more than 170 nations in a unified effort to ensure global, “equitable access” to effective coronavirus vaccines. “COVID-19 is an unprecedented global health challenge that can only be met with unprecedented cooperation between governments, researchers, manufacturers and multilateral partners,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, introducing the partnership.

The Trump administration’s go-it-alone stance begins with the president’s hostility to the WHO — which Trump has attempted to scapegoat for Covid-19’s global spread, in an apparent attempt to cover for his own failings to protect America from the virus. This summer, the United States has taken steps to leave the WHO by 2021. “We will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere told the New York Times.

Trump’s decision to abandon international cooperation puts America at risk — again. The coronavirus spread here, unchecked, because of the failure of the CDC to roll out a reliable diagnostic. Much poorer countries, by contrast, were able to stem the pandemic by deploying a test developed in Germany and adopted by the WHO. If U.S. efforts to develop our own vaccine falter, experts warn America could again be left agonize as other nations, lacking our enormous resources, tame the deadly virus. “America is taking a huge gamble,” a top global-health academic told the Post.

America does have several, promising Covid-19 vaccine candidates currently undergoing trails. The likely outcome is that America will produce a viable vaccine. But by dismissing international cooperation, the U.S. is also squandering a traditional roll of global leadership. If the Trump’s America First strategy succeeds, and we “win” the race to vaccine development, will the U.S. hoard the drug for even low-risk Americans as other high-risk populations across the globe continue to be ravaged by the disease?

Trump has set America on an isolationist course that could harm not only global public health but our moral authority. “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, an international health and development expert based in Geneva told the Post. “It’s about, are you a reliable partner, or, at the end of the day, are you going to keep all your toys for yourself?”

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