Story at a glance
- Anthony Fauci led a delegation to refresh the U.S.’s partnership with the WHO.
- A recent investigation found the local and national Chinese authorities could have done more to halt the initial spread of COVID-19 from Wuhan.
In one of his first assignments as part of the Biden administration, Anthony Fauci took part in a videoconference on Thursday with the World Health Organization (WHO), praising the agency’s work in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and reaffirming the U.S.'s support — a significant shift in the U.S. government’s attitude toward the global health body.
The Washington Post reports that one of President Biden’s first acts in office was to send envoys to begin working with the WHO as it works to distribute burgeoning COVID-19 vaccines to countries in an equitable fashion.
Fauci, now Biden’s chief medical advisor, led a delegation of U.S. officials to assure WHO executives of the U.S.’s commitment to helping finance vaccine distribution efforts.
“I join my fellow representatives in thanking the World Health Organization for its role in leading the global response to this pandemic,” he reportedly said during the virtual meeting. “Under trying circumstances, this organization has rallied the scientific and research community to accelerate vaccines, therapies and diagnostics.”
Prior to the U.S. refreshing its partnership with the WHO, former President Trump had a volatile relationship with the organization, at one point moving to withdraw the U.S. as a member country.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized the role of the U.S. in conquering the pandemic.
“The role of the United States, its global rule, is very, very crucial,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do, and lessons to learn to end the pandemic and meet the long list of global health challenges we face — the world will be better able to meet them with you.”
While the U.S.-WHO relationship appears stronger, Fauci also expressed support for the independent review into the WHO’s initial response to the pandemic, specifically how the coronavirus originated in China.
“The international investigation must be robust and clear, and we look forward to evaluating it,” Fauci stated.
The independent panel recently concluded that Chinese authorities could have done more to mitigate the calamitous spread of the initial outbreak.
"What is clear to the Panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January," the report said, according to NBC.