Dr. Anthony Fauci is officially back in the fold and will attend the White House press briefing on Thursday after being told by President Joe Biden that America will rejoin the World Health Organization as part of his plan to fight COVID once and for all.
Fauci told WHO officials at a virtual meeting at 4.10am on Thursday that he had been told by the new administration the US was going to continue with its financial commitments.
The US is by far the WHO’s largest donor. It gives $237million a year in fees and pledged an additional $635million for special projects between 2018 and 2019.
Trump announced in April that he was ending the contributions. He blamed the WHO for not warning the world about COVID when it was running rampant in China. The US was meant to officially withdraw in July.
Biden, in one of his first acts as President last night, wrote to the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres to tell him that he was stopping the withdrawal.
Fauci, after informing his peers on the virtual call in the early hours, appeared on Good Morning America. He called it ‘refreshing’ and said he was due to speak with him later.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday called the US’s commitment to stay in the WHO ‘refreshing’ as he gushed over Joe Biden and his plan to beat COVID
President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on Wednesday, signing some of his first executive orders
Biden sent this letter to the UN Secretary General last night stating that the US would not be withdrawing from the WHO, as Trump has planned
‘When you’re dealing with a global pandemic, you have to have an international connectivity.
‘For us to not be in the WHO is very disconcerting. The official announcement that we’re re-joining and re-upping our financial commitment, it was really a very good day.
‘The response I’m getting from my colleagues all over the world is very refreshing,’ he said.
Global health officials embraced the news that the US is rejoining the WHO on Thursday.
Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke wrote on Facebook: ‘This is going to have a huge impact on the world´s ability to fight the pandemic.
This is going to have a huge impact on the world´s ability to fight the pandemic.
Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke
‘It is decisive that the United States is involved as a driving force and not a country that is looking for the exit when a global catastrophe rages.
‘This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health. The role of the United States, its role, global role is very, very crucial.
‘Welcome back to the WHO to the US. Now let’s get to work.’
John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called it ‘great news’ in an email.
‘The world has always been a better place when the U.S. plays a leadership role in solving global health problems including the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio and other diseases,’ he said.
Fauci also said Biden will issue a directive Thursday that shows America’s intent to join the COVAX Facility, a project to deploy COVID-19 vaccines to people in need around the world – whether in rich or poor countries.
Fauci was unceremoniously removed from Trump’s White House briefings in the early days of the pandemic after making conflicting remarks about the administration’s handling of the crisis.
After winning the election, Biden asked Fauci to stay on and become his administration’s chief medical adviser – a role he accepted.
Fauci will join White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in the briefing room later on Thursday.
The US is by far the largest contributor to the WHO. It accounts for more than 20% of its donations
The US has only vaccinated 5.2% of its population whereas Israel has vaccinated 32% of its population
He also said that Biden’s plan to vaccinate 100million Americans within his first 100 days in office was not only plausible, but that the US might surpass it if distribution is handled correctly.
‘We’re going to be there reasonably soon. The President has made this his top priority.
‘I’m going to meet with him later today to brief him and discuss vaccines.
Trump decided in April to withdraw the US from the WHO because it failed to warn the world about COVID-19
‘His goal is to get 100milion people vaccinated within the first 100 days – I feel fairly confident that it’s going to be not only that, maybe even better,’ he said.
Fauci said the contracts the US has with the vaccine manufacturers make it a reality but that distribution was slowing the vaccine program down.
‘First of all, if you look at the contractual arrangements we’ve made, we’ll be able to meet that goal – the important thing is the distribution. To do it in an effective, efficient way- get it into the arms of people.
‘That’s something he’s going to do by a number of new initiatives.
‘Community vaccination centers to get it into pharmacies, to use the defense production act wherever he needs it, if that means syringes and needles as well as the vaccine itself…he’s going to do everything he needs to do,’ he said.
The US has been woefully slow in rolling the vaccine out. Israel has already vaccinated 20 percent of its population – 10 times what the US has done.
Until now, the plan has been to hand the vaccines out to each state in doses which correlate to their populations. It is then down to the states to distribute them locally.
The US is still in the grips of the pandemic with the number of daily deaths at its highest
It’s unclear if that will continue or if Biden will shake up the distribution strategy. Many states and cities, like New York, are now running out of vaccine doses.
To date, Pfizer and Moderna are the only vaccines that have been approved in the US.
The UK has approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine and it is easier to store and administer.
On Thursday, Fauci said the American company Johnson & Johnson was within ‘a week or two’ of being approved.
‘I don’t want to get ahead of the FDA – Johnson and Johnson are I a week or two of getting data analysed. The preliminary data looks good. We can look forward to having more companies supplying vaccines,’ he said.
Biden has also reversed Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord, a multi-nation agreement to combat climate change.
Both indicate his plan to reintegrate the US into the world of global politics and collaborations.
Trump’s entire campaign and presidency sought the opposite – he wanted to insulate the country and focus on its independent success before any form of foreign policy.