We’re committed to keeping our readers informed.
We’ve removed our paywall from essential coronavirus news stories. Become a subscriber to support our journalists. Subscribe now.
On Monday, a European Union-led fundraiser failed to reach its €7.5 billion goal to support researchers pursuing a coronavirus vaccine. Though the fundraiser had a noticeable flaw — its organizers curiously included money that’s already been allocated for COVID-19 studies in their totals — one reason for the missed target was the Trump administration’s decision to skip the event outright.
Though all of the leaders of G7 nations broadcasted live or sent video messages to play at the event, President Trump was noticeably absent; when reporters asked why the United States did not participate in the virtual summit, senior administration officials declined to answer six separate times. While the absence was mostly symbolic, it comes in the wake of the president’s decision to cut U.S. funding to the World Health Organization, suggesting that the president is abandoning global public-health efforts just as they’re needed most. To counter Trump’s apparent withdrawal, several leaders announced additional funding for the WHO at the event, while the day’s biggest haul came when Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced Norway would donate $1.2 billion to the international search for the vaccine.
While Trump has expressed a general disdain for international collaboration throughout his time in the White House — including reported discussions on leaving NATO and the announcement of a symbolic withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement — world leaders reportedly fear that the president’s America-first inclination could lead to a bidding war over, or the politicization of, an eventual coronavirus vaccine. According to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, there’s reason for the worry: In March, the Trump administration reportedly reached out to fund a German biopharmaceutical company with the caveat that if it found a vaccine, it would be available “only for the United States.”