US and China are no-shows at global coronavirus video conference

The US — along with Russia, China and India — passed on an invitation by the World Health Organization to join a global initiative to fight COVID-19, although leaders from Europe, the Middle East and Africa showed up.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were among those who participated in a video conference Friday to launch what the WHO termed a “landmark collaboration” to fight the pandemic, Reuters reported.

The aim is to accelerate the development of safe and effective drugs, tests and vaccines to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19 and ensure access to treatments for rich and poor.

Before the meeting, a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva told Reuters that the United States would not be involved.

“We remain deeply concerned about the WHO’s effectiveness, given that its gross failures helped fuel the current pandemic,” he later said.

President Trump has suspended funding to the WHO, criticizing the health arm of the United Nations as being slow to react to the outbreak and being “China-centric.”

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