Trump administration Health Secretary Alex Azar said today that any coronavirus vaccine developed in the United States will be shared with the rest of the world – but only after Americans’ needs have been met.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to Taiwan, Azar said the US government’s vaccine development program – dubbed “Operation Warp Speed” – is primarily aimed at fighting the national epidemic.
“Our first priority is of course to develop and produce a sufficient quantity of safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics approved by the FDA for use in the United States,” said the secretary.
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“But we expect to have the capacity that once these needs are met, these products would be available to the global community on fair and equitable distributions on which we would consult with the international community.”
Vaccine research funded under Operation Warp Speed seeks to create a safe and effective vaccine in record time, and deploy hundreds of millions of doses by the end of this year – an unprecedented achievement in mass inoculation research, a process that normally takes years rather than months.
Some observers fear the project has taken on too political a dimension, with the administration wishing to declare its success on election day on November 3. Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that the virus will “go away” and that his administration will develop it, promises that currently cannot be backed up by any drug or technology available.
The result, some experts worry, could be a vaccine released before it was found to be effective or safe, raising the prospect of inflicting dangerous side effects on millions of people without giving them immunity. .
Mr. Azar’s trip to Taiwan, meanwhile, has been the highest-level visit by a U.S. official for decades, and comes as the Trump administration takes a much more belligerent turn towards Beijing.
With the fighting for commerce, data security, the future of Hong Kong, and the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province intensifying, US-China relations are perhaps at their lowest point since ” standardization ‘of the 1970s.
The Chinese government has now responded with umbrage to Mr. Azar’s visit. The secretary has previously hailed Taiwan’s response to the pandemic as “among the most successful in the world”, calling it “a tribute to the open, transparent and democratic nature of Taiwan society and culture.”
For its part, China warned that the visit could “seriously damage” the already strained relations of the two countries, and promised to take countermeasures, without specifying their nature.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, blamed China for the coronavirus outbreak. This summer, he withdrew from the World Health Organization citing the organization’s alleged acquiescence to China and its interests – including keeping Taiwan out of the organization.
Nonetheless, Mr Azar maintained that “the United States has always been and will remain the largest funder of global public health in the world,” and said the administration would find new alliances and bilateral and multilateral organizations. to pursue the same priorities.