AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest AIDS organization, applauds the recent announcement by the Biden Administration that the U.S. will be rejoining the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as joining COVAX, a global coordinating facility that seeks to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the developing world.
“While the World Health Organization has made serious missteps throughout this and other global public health emergencies, AHF applauds the Biden Administration for reengaging the United States with the international community on important health issues,” said Terri Ford, AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy. “Now the difficult but necessary work must begin toward building a reimagined public health framework that is transparent, accountable, and responsive – and one that has sufficient resources and authority to enforce and build on the international health regulations the world needs to prevent and respond to public health emergencies.”
The announcement by Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken that President Biden would bring the U.S. into the COVAX is also welcomed news, as there is growing concern that much of the developing world would not have access to sufficient quantities of COVID-19 vaccines until as late as 2023. COVAX desperately needs to shore up support and confidence among wealthy countries, who have largely bypassed the facility in favor of concluding separate bilateral deals with leading vaccine manufacturers.
“COVAX is going to play an important role in getting vaccines to those who need them most, and U.S. involvement will be a valuable addition to that effort,” added Ford. “But as we said recently, the vaccine will not be a ‘silver bullet’ solution to COVID-19—the world will need to continue to adhere to infection control and prevention measures such as social distancing, masking and hand washing for the time being, while strengthening cooperation, coordination and transparency surrounding the pandemic response. Rejoining WHO and joining the COVAX facility are steps in the right direction.”