A spokesman for the US mission told Reuters that “there will be no US official participation” in the programme, which aims to speed the development of a vaccine and share resources in the fight against the virus.
He said: “We look forward to learning more about this initiative in support of international cooperation to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 as soon as possible.”
The nation’s withdrawal from collaborative international efforts in the wake of the pandemic follows Donald Trump‘s announcement that the US would suspend funding to the WHO after he accused the United Nations agency of “covering up” the coronavirus outbreak from China. He attacked the organisation as he faced similar criticisms after reports showed that he had dismissed or ignored warnings about the threat of the outbreak from his administration for several weeks.
He said: “When we’re divided, the virus exploits the cracks between us.”
The director-general had previously criticised the president for politicising the virus, saying that “now is not the time for pointing fingers”.
Based on WHO’s 2020-2021 budgets, the president’s funding suspension could jeopardise millions of dollars in funding for polio, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS treatment, as well as programmes for vaccine-preventable diseases and controlling disease outbreaks.