Thursday, June 16

US says will not take part in WHO global drugs, vaccine initiative launch

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The United States will not take part in the launching of a global initiative on Friday to speed the development, production and distribution of drugs and vaccines against COVID-19, a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva told Reuters.

“There will be no U.S. official participation”, he said in an email reply to a query. “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.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has announced a suspension of funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), where it is the largest donor. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will help launch the global initiative on Friday, the U.N. agency said ahead of the 1300 GMT event.

The global coronavirus death toll approached 200,000 on Saturday as the United Nations launched an international push for a vaccine to defeat the pandemic.

The United States is the hardest-hit country by far in the pandemic, recording more than 51,000 deaths and over 890,000 infections.

The world’s biggest economy has been hammered by the pandemic, with 26 million jobs lost since the crisis began, and American leaders are under pressure to find ways to ease social distancing measures.

Despite criticism from Trump, the governor of Georgia allowed some businesses, including nail salons and bowling alleys, to reopen on Friday, sparking both criticism and relief.

Global COVID-19 deaths have climbed past 195,000, according to an AFP tally, but new reported cases appear to have leveled off at about 80,000 a day.

The daily death toll in Western countries seems to be falling, a sign hopeful epidemiologists had been looking for, but the WHO has warned that other nations are still in the early stages of the fight.

The unprecedented situation has left the world staring at its worst downturn since the Great Depression, and world leaders are trying to balance public health concerns with economic needs.

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