The White House released a statement this Tuesday, announcing their plan to opt out of the World Health Organization (WHO) led Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) project. The goal of Covax is to encourage countries to combine efforts in funding, developing and distributing potential vaccines in an efficient, equitable manner.
Political and health officials worldwide are criticizing this radical decision. The US is effectively placing all of their eggs in one basket by choosing to only support American made vaccines.
Instead, the WHO recommends signing a bilateral deal with Covax. This way they can continue to pursue options closer to home while being a part of the global effort to find a vaccine. So far over 170 countries have joined the project, including Canada, Japan, and the UK.
The Trump Administration’s recent decision is in large part due to the WHO’s leading role in the founding of Covax. Trump has called their reaction to the pandemic very “China centric,” and he has plans to withdraw from the WHO altogether.
The current administration is no stranger to politicizing issues surrounding the pandemic. Trump originally portrayed the use of masks as “voluntary” and even “politically correct”.
It wasn’t until mid-July that the president was photographed wearing a mask himself. This came after statewide mandates regarding the use of masks and the CDC’s findings on their ability to decrease the spread of the virus.
The White House has also asked states to be ready to begin distribution of a vaccine as early as Nov. 1. Many view this as a ploy from the Trump administration to gain numbers in the polls. They worry that the vaccine process will be rushed, putting Americans at risk.
These recent decisions will likely have lasting effects on the world stage. The US is attempting to forge ahead in the race for a vaccine by going it alone, but they run the risk of their trials proving unsuccessful.
Covax has also lost a major contributor in their multiple candidate approach. That being said, the countries who are participating have power, and more importantly security, in numbers.
Regardless of the outcome, these developments in the global search for a vaccine will shape the world’s continued reaction to the pandemic and eventual return to normalcy.