With only a few days left in office, President Donald Trump has proposed $ 27.4 billion in brutal budget cuts – including the withdrawal of 5.1 billion from global public health amid an epidemic. Of the proposed health cuts, a vaccine coalition that would play a central role in helping low-income countries distribute COVID-19 vaccines would lose $ 4 billion.
The proposed cuts are part of a recession request, which, according to Politico’s report, has no chance of being implemented by Congress. However, the proposed cuts — particularly for the Vaccine Alliance — are likely to add insult to injury in the global public health community, which continues to battle the out-of-control epidemic.
Worldwide, the total number of COVID-19 cases is more than 93 million, and deaths are approaching 2 million. In the US alone, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases exceeds 235,000, with 129,000 currently hospitalized. Nearly 4,000 people have died every day in the last three days, making America’s death at about 380,000.
In May, Trump announced that he would “end our relationship” with the World Health Organization, to the exclusion of health experts around the world. In September, the Trump administration said they would not participate in a WHO-backed effort called COVAX to help develop and evenly distribute COVID-19 vaccines internationally, including in low-income countries. The move triggered a new round of criticisms from public health experts, who called it “suicidal” and “self-defeating”.
At the time, Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven emphasized how necessary it was to be involved in global vaccination efforts, saying “equal access to a COVID-19 vaccine is key to beating the virus and paving the way for the epidemic.” .This may not be a race with few winners, and is an important part of the COVAX facility solution – ensuring that all countries have access to the world’s largest portfolio of candidates and fair and equitable distribution of vaccine doses . “
Nearly 100 other high-income countries have signed COVAX, including China, which fills the “leadership vacuum” left by the Trump administration.
The move was also “self-defeating” as the US is already funding one of COVAX’s main organizers, namely the Vaccine Alliance, Gavi.
Funding Gavi is exactly what the Trump administration intends to do when they walk out the door. In requesting recession, the administration upheld the cuts with vaccine nationalism, writing:
US money of $ 4 billion designated as an emergency need to support international vaccination efforts in advance of clearly stated US policy to vaccinate at-risk populations within the United States before supporting international vaccination efforts Will provide American funds for
However, as Politico notes, Congress has budgeted for both domestic and international immunizations, and Gavi funding is not preferred over domestic funding.