US decision to abstain from WHO-backed vaccine initiative 'awkward, contradictory and self-defeating,' expert says

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The Trump administration said the U.S. will not join an international effort intended to expedite COVID-19 vaccine development and ensure equitable distribution, according to The Washington Post.

More than 170 countries are expected to join the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, referred to as Covax. The effort is backed by the World Health Organization, from which the U.S. announced plans to withdraw in July.

"The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson told The Washington Post.

In abstaining from the effort, the U.S. forgoes the opportunity to obtain vaccine doses from a network of promising candidates, relying on the bilateral deals it has independently signed with drugmakers.

"This just shows how awkward, contradictory and self-defeating all of this is," J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Washington Post. "For the U.S. to terminate its relationship with the WHO in the middle of a pandemic is going to create an endless stream of self-defeating moments."

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