Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday announced renewed US support for the World Health Organization – as he thanked the UN agency for its global efforts to combat the pandemic.
“I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser on COVID-19, said by videoconference to WHO’s executive board.
Just hours after Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, his administration announced the US will cancel a planned pullout from the WHO in July that had been announced by the Trump administration.
The top US infectious diseases expert said the new administration “will cease the drawdown of US staff seconded to the WHO” and resume “regular engagement” with WHO.
“The United States also intends to fulfill its financial obligations to the organization,” added Fauci, who referred to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as “my dear friend.”
He said Washington planned to “work constructively with partners to strengthen and importantly reform the WHO.”
“Under trying circumstances, this organization has rallied the scientific and research and development community to accelerate vaccines, therapies and diagnostics,” Fauci said.
He added that the US will join the WHO’s efforts to bring vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to people in need everywhere — and will also resume full funding and staffing support for the agency.
Fauci also said the US plans to join the COVAX vaccine facility that aims to deliver vaccines to poor countries, Reuters reported.
“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 to advance multilateral efforts for COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutic and diagnostic distribution, equitable access, and research and development,” he said.
The first vaccine batches are expected to go to poorer countries in February under the COVAX program run by the WHO and the GAVI vaccine alliance, WHO officials said this week.
“The United States stands ready to work in partnership and solidarity to support the international Covid-19 response,” Fauci said as he stressed the monumental task ahead in reining in the pandemic, which has claimed more than two million lives and infected close to 100 million around the world.
Other countries and Tedros hailed Fauci’s remarks and pledged to work with the Biden administration.
“This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health,” Tedros said, referring to “my brother Tony” in reference to Fauci, while congratulating Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“The role of the United States, its role, global role is very, very crucial,” he said.
On Wednesday, Biden informed United Nations chief Antonio Guterres in a letter that he was retracting Trump’s July 6 notification that the US planned to withdraw from the agency in 12 months.
“The United States intends to remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Biden wrote.
The WHO chief welcomed the about-face, telling the executive board meeting: “WHO is a family of nations and we are all glad that the United States is staying in the family.”
With Post wires