A pledge from America’s top infectious disease expert that the United States would maintain ties with the World Health Organization (WHO) was met with gratitude by the head of the United Nations’ health agency.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the new U.S. head of delegation to the WHO Executive Board under the Biden administration, made the remarks during a virtual meeting on Thursday. His comments came one year after the country confirmed its first COVID-19 case in Washington state and a day following the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
“I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Fauci said. “Yesterday, President Biden signed the letters retracting the previous administration’s announcement to withdraw from the organization.”
Fauci, speaking on behalf of the Biden administration, said the U.S. deeply values its relationship with the WHO, and will “look to strengthen [it] going forward.”
Last July, the Trump administration submitted a notice of withdrawal from the WHO to the United Nations secretary-general, a senior administration official previously told Fox News, after Trump for weeks had blasted the WHO’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and what he called its pro-China bias. The U.S. had been the top contributor to the agency, to the tune of approximately $450 million a year.
The official removal was set to go into effect July 2021 — a move now reversed by the Biden administration.
The Biden administration also plans to join COVAX, an initiative aimed at providing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries
“Given that a considerable amount of effort will be required by all of us moving forward, the United States stands ready to work in partnership and solidarity to support the international COVID-19 response, mitigate its impact on the world, strengthen our institutions, advance epidemic preparedness for the future and improve the health and wellbeing of all people throughout the world,” Fauci continued.
The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked Fauci for his support backing the agency over decades, and for Fauci’s leadership in the United States’ fight against the novel coronavirus.
“This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health,” Tedros said. “The role of the United States, its global role is very very crucial,” the WHO chief continued, sending his thanks to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“We look forward to continuing this partnership as I know all member states do…We have a lot of work to do and lessons to learn to end the pandemic and to meet the long list of global health challenges we face but the world will be able to meet them with you,” Tedros said.
Fox News’ Morgan Philips and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.