Ian Patrick, FISM News
At a White House Press Briefing, Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response Andy Slavitt said that the U.S. is the priority for the inoculation campaign but another priority exists in returning “to global leadership.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, also on the panel, noted that the U.S. could consider sharing vaccine candidates with other nations after dealing with its own.
During the Q&A session of the briefing, the members were asked about vaccine hoarding in the U.S. and if the government had a plan for distribution beyond national borders. Slavitt acknowledged the threat of vaccine hoarding and said that President Biden was putting the U.S. first, but he also mentioned its place in the worldwide effort against the pandemic.
The President has stated his number one priority is to make sure we prioritize the vaccination in this country. . . . We’ve also made it a priority to say that we must return to global leadership . . . until we deal with this pandemic across the globe we will not be successful in dealing with it.
Slavitt mentioned that the U.S. had joined COVAX, the global inoculation effort against COVID-19 established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to the fear that poorer countries would not have access to candidates once they were available. According to its own website:
By joining COVAX, both self-financing countries and funded countries will gain access to this portfolio of vaccines, as and when they prove to be both safe and effective. Self-financing countries will be guaranteed sufficient doses to protect a certain proportion of their population, depending upon how much they buy into it. Subject to funding availability, funded countries will receive enough doses to vaccinate up to 20 per cent of their population in the longer term.
Dr. Fauci said that the U.S. is “taking a very active role in COVAX” with “a $4 billion dollar pledge” in the effort. He then lauded the U.S. effort to get “back in global leadership.”
We’re back in global leadership, which I think is really important. . . . after we do take care of the really difficult situation we’ve had in our own country with over 535,000 deaths we will obviously in the future have surplus vaccine and there certainly is a consideration to make that vaccine available to countries that need it.
Under President Trump, the U.S. was poised to leave the WHO after they had previously halted funding to the organization. However, the Biden administration almost immediately reversed the decision to leave and has indicated that the U.S. will continue to fund the WHO sometime in the future.