US recommitment 'good day for global health': WHO chief

By Peter Kenny

GENEVA (AA) – The US' leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday said the country formally recommitted to the World Health Organization, which was immediately welcomed by the health body's chief for its impact on global health.

"This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health," said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, adding that the global role of the US is "very crucial".

He was welcoming Fauci's announcement in an address to the world health body's executive committee reversing former President Donald Trump's decision to pull the US out of the WHO.

"We send our support and best wishes to you, President [Joe] Biden, Vice President [Kamala] Harris, the new administration, and the American people as you work together to save lives and bring the pandemic under control," Tedros said.

He also thanked the US for its commitment to join COVAX — the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access plan led by the WHO — and support the ACT Accelerator — the access to COVID-19 tools.

"I said that we must work together as one family to ensure vaccination of health workers and other high-risk group is underway in all countries within the first 100 days of 2021. With your commitment, we're one step closer."

The ACT Accelerator and the COVAX vaccines pillar are the groundwork for the equitable distribution and deployment of vaccines overcoming scientific, legal, logistical, and regulatory barriers, Tedros told the committee Monday.

The US was one of the major nations that had not joined COVAX.

"The United States intends to fulfill its financial obligations to the organization," said Fauci as he announced the recommitment of the Biden administration to the WHO.

Fauci also noted: "The United States sees technical collaboration at all levels as a fundamental part of our relationship with the WHO, one that we value deeply and will look to strengthen going forward."

"As a WHO member, the United States will work constructively, with partners to strengthen and importantly, to reform the WHO."

Trump was a constant critic of the WHO for its handling of the pandemic, accusing it of being a "puppet of China".

In April 2020, he announced a halt to funding for the global agency and formally moved to withdraw the US from the WHO to make it effective as of July 6, 2021.