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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Trump administration has decided to go it alone on developing and distributing a coronavirus vaccine, after refusing to join the World Health Organization's efforts to provide equitable doses for all countries, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. is betting it will win the race for a coronavirus vaccine without any help from foreign countries.

  • “The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” said Judd Deere, a spokesperson for the White House.

State of play: 172 countries have submitted “expressions of interest” in the COVAX initiative, led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi.

  • They hope to avoid an outcome where access to vaccines is initially limited to countries that produce them or can afford to buy them at scale.
  • The idea is that rich and middle-income countries will help fund the development of at least nine vaccine candidates. Once one of those vaccines is approved, it will be distributed globally according to need, including to poorer countries.
  • Distribution will be based on population size, with health care workers and vulnerable people prioritized and a portion kept in reserve to be deployed to hot spots.
  • The groups behind COVAX are aiming to avoid a higher-stakes repeat of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, which was secured almost entirely by rich countries.

But the U.S. and several other rich countries or blocs — the U.K., EU, Japan — have also been spending billions of dollars to ensure their access to the leading vaccine candidates.

  • Given the limits on global manufacturing capacity, those deals could undermine the effectiveness of the global initiative.

What to watch: While countries like the U.K. and Japan have also expressed interest in the COVAX initiative, the U.S. is going it entirely alone.

  • It has purchased a combined 800 million doses of six vaccines, with the option to buy 1 billion more, per Nature.
  • The Trump administration has compared its approach to that of an airplane passenger securing their oxygen mask before helping others, Thomas Bollyky and Chad Bown write in Foreign Affairs — though they note that "airplane oxygen masks do not drop only in first class."

Yes, but: "An unlikely worst-case scenario, experts said, is that none of the U.S. vaccine candidates are viable, leaving the United States with no option since it has shunned the COVAX effort," per the Post.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Dec 9, 2020 - Health

Pennsylvania governor tests positive for coronavirus

Gov. Tom Wolf at a press conference on Oct. 1. Photo: Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group/Daily Local News via Getty Images

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), 72, tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, and is experiencing no symptoms as he self-isolates, he tweeted Wednesday.

The big picture: Current coronavirus hospitalizations and cases are skyrocketing in Pennsylvania, as well as in many states across the U.S., per the COVID Tracking Project. Wolf tweeted on Tuesday that "hospitalizations are reaching critical levels" in his state.

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.