World Leaders Kick Off Initiative To Fight Coronavirus Without US

Above photo: French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization and other world leaders about the coronavirus outbreak. Getty Images.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has kicked off a plan in collaboration with world leaders to accelerate the development, production and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched an initiative in collaboration with world leaders to accelerate the development of tests, drugs and vaccines against the coronavirus and share them around the world, without the involvement of the United States. 

WHO on Friday launched the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator during a video news conference with world leaders, among those who joined the conference included France President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Leaders from Asia, the Middle East and the Americas also joined the conference, but a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva told Reuters the U.S. would not be involved.

“There will be no U.S. official participation,” the spokesman told Reuters

“We look forward to learning more about this initiative in support of international cooperation to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 as soon as possible,” the spokesman added. 

The aim of the “landmark collaboration is to speed up the development of effective treatments, tests and vaccines to treat COVID-19, and ensure access to those all around the world, rich or poor. 

“Our shared commitment is to ensure all people have access to all the tools to defeat COVID-19,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the virtual meeting

“We are facing a common threat which we can only defeat with a common approach,” Tedros said, adding “Experience has told us that even when tools are available they have not been equally available to all. We cannot allow that to happen.”

Von der Leyen said a global pledging effort in early May is aiming to raise $8.10 billion dollars to kick off work on diagnostics, treatment and prevention. She said this is a first step, but more will be needed in the future. 

Macron said leaders will continue to mobilize G7 and G20 countries to get behind the initiative, saying “and I hope we’ll manage to reconcile around this joint initiative both China and the U.S., because this is about saying: the fight against COVID-19 is a common human good and there should be no division in order to win this battle.”

The absence of the U.S. in the initiative comes as President Trump suspended payments to the global health body pending a “review” of its response to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. has started shifting its WHO contributions to other health-focused groups. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused the agency’s leadership of falling short in exercising authority over China for its handling of the outbreak, which originated in Wuhan.

World health experts have criticized the move by the Trump administration, including the American Medical Association (AMA), which said cutting funding “rather than focusing on solutions, is a dangerous move at a precarious moment for the world.”