Anthony S. Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden, on Thursday praised the leadership of the World Health Organization in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, a dramatic departure from the attitude of the previous U.S. administration.
Hours after taking office, Biden signed directives to re-engage with the WHO and join its effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines around the world, reversing the position of the Trump administration, which repeatedly criticized the U.N. agency.
Fauci, who is also the United States’ top infectious-disease expert, led the U.S. delegation to the group’s executive board meeting and confirmed Biden’s decision, including honoring financial obligations to the cash-strapped health body.
“I join my fellow representatives in thanking the World Health Organization for its role in leading the global response to this pandemic,” he said via videoconference. “Under trying circumstances, this organization has rallied the scientific and research community to accelerate vaccines, therapies and diagnostics.”
He also praised the WHO’s efforts in providing medical supplies to countries and giving regular briefings on the progress of the pandemic around the world.
President Donald Trump was highly critical of the organization and its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, maintaining they were too subservient to China. In July, Trump issued a letter announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the WHO after a year. The United States is the organization’s largest donor.
Tedros, along with many of the other delegations to the meeting, welcomed Fauci’s announcement.
“The role of the United States, its global rule, is very, very crucial,” he said, and congratulated Biden on his election win. “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.”