The White House said on Tuesday that the U.S. would not join a global effort aimed at providing equitable worldwide access to COVID-19 vaccines, citing the project’s link to a “corrupt” World Health Organisation (WHO).
More than 170 countries are in talks to join the vaccine initiative, known as COVAX, which has already received a 400-million-euro (475-million-dollar) pledge from the European Commission.
The effort is organised by the vaccine alliance Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and WHO.
In a statement on Tuesday White House spokesperson Judd Deere said the U.S. would “not be constrained by multilateral organisations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organisation and China”.
“This President will spare no expense to ensure that any new vaccine maintains our own FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) gold standard for safety and efficacy, is thoroughly tested, and saves lives,” Deere added.
The U.S. decision comes after the Trump administration pulled out of WHO in July, claiming that Beijing is too influential in the organisation and has been pursuing go-it-alone strategy in vaccine development.
COVAX, which is organised by the vaccine alliance Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and WHO says it has the world’s largest and most diverse pool of vaccine candidates.
In a statement last week, CEPI’s chief executive officer Richard Hatchett called on countries to work together to find a vaccine, saying countries that acted alone would create “few winners and many losers.”