WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday that the US intends to pay over $200 million “in assessed and current obligations” to the World Health Organization.
The Trump administration pulled back from the organization last year, citing a lack of transparency.
Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting, Blinken noted that the US plans to provide significant financial support to COVAX through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
“This is a key step forward in fulfilling our financial obligations as a WHO member,” he continued. “And it reflects our renewed commitment to ensuring the WHO has the support it needs to lead the global response to the pandemic, even as we work to reform it for the future.”
He went on to say that countries must be held accountable for upholding their human rights obligations, and that “no country should be allowed to use COVID-19 as an excuse to violate human rights or fundamental freedoms.
“We also call for all countries to combat misinformation on vaccines. If we don’t, we seriously jeopardize our mission,” Blinken added.
The secretary of state noted that even with expanded access to safe and effective vaccines, COVID-19 outbreaks are likely to occur in the years to come.
“The ongoing expert investigation about the origins of this pandemic – and the report that will be issued – must be independent, with findings based on science and facts and free from interference,” he added.
He said that the US would work with its partners across the globe to expand manufacturing and distribution capacity and to increase access, including to marginalized populations.
“We must defeat COVID-19 and prevent future pandemics,” he continued. “To that end, we’ll work with partners around the globe to strengthen and reform the WHO, to support the Global Health Security Agenda, to build sustainable preparedness for biological threats [and] to create a warning system that will allow us to respond more rapidly with testing, with tracing.
“We seek to advance the creation of a long-overdue sustainable financing mechanism for health security, so we can leave the world more prepared for future outbreaks than it was for this pandemic,” Blinken added.