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Dr. Fauci says U.S. staying with WHO, focused in global COVID-19 fight

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, receives an initial dose of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., on December 22, 2020. Photo by Patrick Semansky/UPI/Pool
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, receives an initial dose of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., on December 22, 2020. Photo by Patrick Semansky/UPI/Pool | License Photo

Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Dr. Anthony Fauci -- a top infectious diseases expert and leader in the U.S. response to COVID-19 -- signaled to the World Health Organization on Thursday that the United States isn't going anywhere, and that the Biden administration is committed to helping lead the global fight against the pandemic.

Fauci addressed the WHO, via remote video link, during a session of the group's executive board in Switzerland.

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In his remarks, Fauci demonstrated a stark departure from the U.S. posture toward the group under the Trump administration, which was often critical of the WHO's efforts and had begun the process to withdraw the United States from the United Nations-based health organization.

"I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization," Fauci said.

After he was inaugurated on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden immediately reversed the withdrawal and committed the United States to remain in the WHO, maintaining its long-held role as the group's top donor.

"The United States stands ready to work in partnership and solidarity to support the international COVID-19 response, mitigate its impact on the world, strengthen our institutions, advance epidemic preparedness for the future, and improve the health and well-being of all people throughout the world," Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, said during the session.

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"The United States ... intends to fulfill its financial obligations to the organization."

Fauci also said the United States will join Covax, a global vaccination effort led by the WHO that aims to give poorer nations equal access to coronavirus vaccines -- and aid a WHO investigation into the virus' origins in China more than a year ago.

"It is imperative that we learn and build upon important lessons about how future pandemic events can be averted," he said. "The international investigation should be robust and clear, and we look forward to evaluating it.

Investigators arrived in China a week ago to begin examining the origins of the crisis.

"We are committed to transparency, including those events surrounding the early days of the pandemic," Fauci noted.

"Thank you my brother Tony for leading the delegation," WHO Director-general Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus responded in a tweet Thursday.

Trump announced several months ago that he was withdrawing the United States from the WHO, accusing the group of letting China take "total control" of the organization. He also blamed the WHO and China for "covering up" the origins of the pandemic.

Trump also often clashed with Fauci, who was a leader of the former White House Coronavirus Task Force, and threatened repeatedly to fire him.

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Fauci's statements on Thursday were a stark announcement to the WHO and international health community that the United States is under dramatically new leadership.

"Under trying circumstances, [the WHO] has rallied the scientific and research and development community to accelerate vaccines, therapies and diagnostics," Fauci said.

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