The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) director, in an interview published Tuesday, said the federal agency hopes to continue working with the communist China-influenced World Health Organization (W.H.O.) on several “existing partnerships” despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s order to halt funding for the global body.
We are certainly deeply invested in the support of global health because diseases don’t really pay much attention to country boundaries. An awful lot of the things that we need to worry about in our own country are also affecting other parts of the world. Given the W.H.O. is a major player in that global health arena, we’d hope to be able to continue to work with them in some productive way.
Dr. Collins’ comments came in response to STAT asking if the NIH has the continued freedom to fund and partner with the W.H.O. on research and public health projects in the wake of Trump’s decision to stop American taxpayer funding for the United Nations’ health body.
The director acknowledged that the NIH has ongoing partnerships with the W.H.O.
STAT asked Collins, “What does President Trump’s pledge to halt U.S. funding for the W.H.O. mean for NIH and for existing research and public health partnerships between W.H.O. and the federal government?”
The NIH director responded:
We have had research partnerships with W.H.O. going back many years. I couldn’t tell you at the moment exactly the nature of those collaborations, but obviously, as the organization is supposed to be watching over public health for the whole world, it would be odd if we didn’t work with them on shared areas of interest.
President Trump wants to pull funding from the W.H.O. because of the organization’s alleged role in “mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus” during its early stages, a move that slowed the world’s response.
Last week, the president announced that he had ordered a halt on W.H.O. funding while his administration reviews the organization’s response to the coronavirus, described as lackluster by some administration officials.
The United States is the W.H.O.’s top source of funding, but communist China appears to maintain more clout over the U.N. agency, particularly after helping put Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in power as the organization’s director.
Tedros is a member of a Marxist-Leninist Ethiopian political party that analysts have listed as a perpetrator of terrorism.
Both the W.H.O. and China have denied mismanaging their coronavirus response and allowing the deadly and highly contagious disease to spill out of China and into the world.
“It’s a tough problem. I think we’ve never had, in the lifetime of those of us who are around right now, an epidemic that came this fast and was this infectious and spread across the globe this quickly,” Dr. Collins told STAT, referring to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“That is certainly stressing all of the research capabilities that we need to bring to it,” he added.
The NIH director praised the agency’s public-private partnership with 16 pharmaceutical companies, an effort dubbed the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV), as a vehicle to speed the development of therapeutics and vaccines to treat and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
COVID-19 refers to the illness caused by the coronavirus (SARS-COV-2).
“I’m hopeful that this new partnership, called ACTIV is the best chance we’ve got against this virus, to bring it to its knees in a shorter period of time than would otherwise happen,” Dr. Collins declared.