US President Donald Trump’s administration has announced it will not work with the worldwide coronavirus vaccine project because it does not want to be constrained by the World Health Organization (WHO), which it is in the process of quitting.
More than 170 countries are in talks to set up the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax.
They are pooling efforts to ensure success against a disease that has no geographical boundaries.
Participating countries include traditional US allies, the UK, Japan and Germany as well as the European Union.
The idea behind Covax is to discourage hoarding, and focus on vaccinating each country’s high-risk people first, a strategy that could lead to better health outcomes and lower costs.
The US will not participate, according to the Washington Post, in part because the White House does not want to work with WHO, which Trump has criticised over what he characterised as its “China-centric” response to the pandemic.
“The US will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organisations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House.
Some members of the Trump administration were interested in a more cooperative approach but were ultimately overruled.
“America is taking a huge gamble by taking a go-it-alone strategy,” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University.
Suerie Moon, co-director of the Global Health Center in Geneva, said, “When the US says it is not going to participate in any sort of multilateral effort to secure vaccines, it’s a real blow.”