World Leaders Launch $8 Billion Collaboration to Develop Coronavirus Vaccine. Guess Who Isn’t Participating.

American exceptionalism strikes again.

Alexei Nikolsky/ZUMA

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

On Friday, the World Health Organization announced that leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, have agreed to an unprecedented $8 billion initiative to fight the coronavirus pandemic, an effort that will include a race to develop a vaccine and ensure equal access to it.

“The world needs these tools and it needs them fast,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference Friday. “In the past, they have not been available to all. That cannot be allowed to happen again.”

If you’re thinking that such a collaborative sentiment would be anathema to President Donald Trump—who last month attempted to buy a German company in order to gain exclusive rights to a vaccine—you’ve guessed right. “There will be no US official participation,” a US spokesman told Reuters when asked about the WHO initiative.

This, of course, tracks with every other go-it-alone, “Make America Great” decision Trump has built his presidency on, as well as his recent accusation that WHO had “severely” mismanaged its handling of the pandemic, a claim widely viewed as an attempt to divert attention from his ongoing failures in dealing with the virus. Yet amid the current pandemic—a crisis the United States leads with the highest death toll in the world—Trump’s latest refusal to participate in a global effort, what could be a vital opportunity to develop a sorely needed vaccine, is still pretty stunning. Perhaps the president is banking on his new disinfectant injections theory.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate