Jourdyn Grandison | Staff Writer
U.S Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, announced that under the Biden administration, the United States plans to join the COVAX vaccine facility.
“President Biden will issue a directive later today which will include the intent of the United States to join COVAX and support the ACT-Accelerator, said Dr. Fauci to CNN. “[This] advances multilateral efforts for COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic distribution, equitable access, and research and development.”
COVAX is known as one of the three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, introduced in April to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France. The COVAX initiative was started to ensure that poor and developing nations have access to coronavirus vaccines at the same pace as rich and developed nations.
Former President Donald Trump and his administration announced the U.S. would not join the alliance back in September due to distrust in the WHO and the Chinese government. The administration’s action sparked outrage from public health experts who said it reflected a global initiative’s provincial view.
At the time, almost every country in the world joined the alliance except for Russia and the U.S. The result of Trump’s decision led to the WHO losing $400 to $500 million in required and voluntary donations.
Vaccine developers estimate that there is a possibility of sufficient doses for more than one-third of the world’s population by the end of 2021. Even with this possibility, many people in low-income and developing countries might have to wait until 2023 or 2024 for vaccination, according to estimates from the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.
To combat this, WHO plans to distribute vaccines to developing countries in February under the COVAX strategy. Despite this, there are concerns that more prosperous countries may still be grabbing a large share of available shots.
The U.S. will work with the other 193 member states to reform the U.N. agency and will make research accessible and available to professionals, Dr. Fauci said.
“We believe strongly that we can ensure that every American gets the vaccine, but also help make sure that others around the world who want it have access to it,” Fauci closed.