One day after President Joe Biden was sworn into office, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. will remain a member of the World Health Organization and join the global vaccine alliance intended to distribute Covid-19 vaccines more equitably around the world, praising the WHO’s leadership during the pandemic in stark departure from the Trump administration which had planned to leave the organization it accused it of being too “China-centric.”
Fauci, who is President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said Thursday that the U.S. would remain a member of the WHO and “fulfill its financial obligations,” reversing former-President Trump’s decision to pull back.
The U.S. had been withdrawing seconded staff and winding down engagement in anticipation of a July 2021 exit from the health body, both of which Fauci said will cease.
In a further departure from the previous administration, which regularly criticized the WHO as being a “puppet of China,” Fauci thanked the organization for its global leadership during the pandemic, where it “relentlessly worked with nations in their fight against Covid-19.”
“Under trying circumstances, this organization has rallied the scientific and research community to accelerate vaccines, therapies and diagnostics,” Fauci said.
Fauci said President Biden will issue a directive Thursday signaling the U.S.’ intention to join the WHO-led Covax alliance, a pooled procurement effort by countries around the world that promotes equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.
The rapid reversal of Trump’s “America-First” global health policies indicates Biden’s plan to return to the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. The U.S.’ reputation as a leader in public health suffered greatly under Trump and not just for his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the WHO in the middle of a global pandemic, which was met with predictable dismay. Widespread political interference and a general disregard of scientific expertise and fact by the Trump administration undermined the integrity of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which had both been held as world-class before the pandemic. Both organizations are now investigating whether political appointees improperly intervened to bring policies and communications in line with Donald Trump’s pandemic messaging.
“This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health,” WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “WHO is a family of nations and we are all glad that the United States is staying in the family,” he added on Twitter.
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