• Biden moves nation swiftly back to WHO
  • Fauci says the new president will issue a vaccine directive
  • An estimated 2 million people worldwide have died from COVID-19 complications

Moving back under the World Health Organization’s umbrella, President Biden’s chief medical advisor said the country would join a vaccine regime that delivers COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries.

Continuing his role as the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci told WHO on Thursday the Biden administration would rejoin the multilateral inoculation effort.

“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,” Fauci was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

COVAX is part of an effort led by WHO, the European commission and France to facilitate equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and diagnostic programs. Launched in April, the program touts itself as the “only true global solution” to the pandemic because of its holistic focus.

The global vaccine alliance Gavi is leading the COVAX program in coordination with its development partners. In December, the program set a goal of delivering at least 1.3 billion doses of approved vaccines for COVID-19 to nearly 100 different poorer countries.

Biden’s decision is a stark reversal from policies embraced by former President Donald Trump, who announced in July the nation would leave WHO as part of his pursuit of a more independent United States.

Fauci told the Harvard Business Review on Wednesday that his relationship with the former president was “somewhat awkward,” particularly given Trump’s penchant for bending the truth on controlling the pandemic.

Biden’s immediate decision to rejoin WHO and the global vaccination campaign was met with resounding praise.

“The role of the United States, its global rule, is very, very crucial,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted by Reuters as saying. “We have a lot of work to do, and lessons to learn to end the pandemic and meet the long list of global health challenges we face — the world will be better able to meet them with you.”

In a first, Biden during his inaugural address on Wednesday took a brief moment of silence to give respect to the 400,000 people in the United States who died due to COVID-19 complications. Globally, the pandemic left more than 2 million people dead.

The geography of some countries, such as archipelagic Indonesia, can make it tough to distribute vaccine jabs
The geography of some countries, such as archipelagic Indonesia, can make it tough to distribute vaccine jabs AFP / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN