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White House says U.S. won't join global COVID-19 vaccine initiative

Pedestrians wear face masks to protect from and prevent the spread of COVID-19 as they walk on the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Pedestrians wear face masks to protect from and prevent the spread of COVID-19 as they walk on the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 1 (UPI) -- The White House on Tuesday said the United States will not take part in a global effort to develop, manufacture and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine led by the World Health Organization.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said the United States would not participate in the COVAX initiative which includes 172 countries and nine vaccine candidates, amid an ongoing dispute between President Donald Trump and WHO.

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"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," Deere said in a statement.

In July, the Trump administration sent formal notice to Congress that it will withdraw from WHO after accusing the agency of enabling China to cover up the origins of the coronavirus

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The COVAX initiative is led by WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, as well as backing by U.S. allies such as Japan, Germany and the European Union.

"I think we need to keep in mind that we're only safe if everybody is safe," Seth Berkley, head of Gavi told The Hill. "If the pandemic is raging out of control in other countries, you still won't go back to normal travel, tourism, commerce."

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The United States has reached deals with Moderna, Johnson & Johnson as well as Pfizer and BioNTech to produce and deliver doses of their vaccine candidates.

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On Sunday, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the agency would be willing to grant an emergency authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine before entering Phase III trials.

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