Every time President Trump touches something, rather than using his hands to heal, he’s actually applying a razor blade across his wrists. Figuratively of course, we aren’t that lucky. His ability to self-inflict wounds upon the American people is becoming the stuff of legend, especially during the pandemic. Now, as the world appears to be coming together to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, Trump has decided not to play along.
The Trump Administration announced Tuesday afternoon that it will not participate in the “global effort to develop, manufacture, and equitably distribute a coronavirus vaccine, in part because the World Health Organization is involved”
More than 172 countries are in negotiations to take part in the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX), but Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, told reporters that “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.”
According to the Washington Post, the purpose of COVAX is to “speed vaccine development and secure doses for all countries and distribute them to the most high-risk segment of each population.” Perhaps Trump’s refusal to participate lies in the fact that it would help the most vulnerable, not himself.
Politically speaking, Trump’s rejection of COVAX plays right to his “America First” base, but it’s a huge gamble and likely to put Americans last. American exceptionalism can be a great campaign booster, but put into practice, it seldom works because American exceptionalism doesn’t really exist. All Trump continues to do is play politics with American lives.
The Administration is now betting all its money on the United States winning first place in the Covid-19 vaccine race against the combination of 172 countries. Not particularly good odds. Trump’s go it alone style has already turned the U.S. into the laughingstock of the world with over six million infected and nearing 200,000 dead.
Even if the United States wins this race, virologist Angela Rasmussen argued in a tweet that “‘America First’ doesn’t apply to pandemics. Viruses don’t observe national borders. If anyone is at risk, we all are. Refusing to cooperate with other countries on vaccines will kill people.”
On the other hand, if the other side wins and COVAX does result in a reliable vaccine developed and distributed throughout the world, the U.S. and its citizens could be left out of enjoying the shared benefits and protections of such an accomplishment.
In a sense, no matter what happens, the United States is set to lose, it’s just a matter if it loses big or loses small. For Trump though, he sees it as a win-win. Going it alone helps his base and we probably won’t have a Covid-19 vaccine until after the election in November anyway.
By using his America first policy now, the real worry may be when Trump pushes through an announcement before the election that declares falsely that a Covid-19 vaccine has been successfully manufactured in the U.S. An October surprise, pandemic edition.