Biden Reverses WHO Withdrawal Plan, Taps Fauci To Lead US Delegation This Week

President Biden has tapped Dr. Anthony Fauci to lead a US delegation at the World Health Organization’s annual meetings, as the new president and his team seek to immediately reverse President Trump’s plan to withdraw from the international aid group, according to CNBC.

“Once the United States resumes its engagement with the WHO, the Biden-Harris Administration will work with the WHO and our partners to strengthen and reform the organization, support the COVID-19 health and humanitarian response, and advance global health and health security,” the Biden transition team said in a Wednesday statement, adding that the new administration will work with the WHO on an international pandemic response plan.

Reengaging with the United Nation’s health organization is among several major changes Biden plans to make to combat the pandemic raging across the world. He also plans to issue an executive order Wednesday “requiring masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands, and by federal employees and contractors.”

The changes will make good on one of Biden’s key campaign promises. He pledged to rejoin the global health agency on his first day in office if he defeated Trump, whose decision to leave the WHO as America faced the worst coronavirus outbreak of any country globally drew bipartisan criticism from lawmakers. –CNBC

“WHO looks forward to the participation of the delegation of the incoming US administration at the Executive Board meeting tomorrow,” said WHO spokesman Andrei Muchnik.

In late May, Trump – who called the WHO “China-centric,” announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the United Nations health agency, however the process was set to take until at least this July. Last April, Trump announced that the US would suspend WHO funding while his administration reviewed the agency’s role in “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”

Whether the president had the authority to pull out of the WHO under U.S. law also became the subject of debate, according to a June report from the Congressional Research Service. The answer would likely require a court to “confront several complicated issues of first impression,” the nonpartisan organization found.

The Trump administration, however, said in September the U.S. would “scale down its engagement” with the WHO leading up until its official departure. The U.S. planned to recall Department of Health and Human Services employees from all WHO offices, including its headquarters, and would participate in the some of the organization’s meetings and events on a case-by-case basis, according to the State Department. –CNBC

Backing Trump at the time was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who said “I’m not going to support funding the WHO under its current leadership,” adding “They’ve been deceptive, they’ve been slow, and they’ve been Chinese apologists. I don’t think they’re a good investment under the current leadership for the United States, and until they change their behavior and get new leadership, I think it’s in America’s best interest to withhold funding because they have failed miserably when it comes to the coronavirus.”

The US has contributed approximately $893 million to the WHO’s operations over the last two years, according to the organization, while China has contributed around $86 million.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken said during his confirmation hearing that the US would participate in a program led by the WHO to provide low-income nations with COVID-19 vaccines, known as Covax, which the Trump administration had previously declined to participate in.