US notably absent from vaccine funding conference

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The Trump administration’s absence from Monday's vaccine "pledging conference" was notable, and emblematic of a wider failure by the US to assume the mantle of global leadership since the outset of this crisis.

The US was not the only major absentee. Russia was not present either, and China’s EU ambassador attended but made no direct pledge to fund vaccine development and treatment research.

US officials stress that huge quantities of government and private funding is going into finding a vaccine. But the "go solo" approach of two giants of global pharmaceutical power – the US and China – sends a worrying signal.

The European view – backed by many other countries around the world – is that any vaccine must be treated as global public property. There is concern that what is developing is a kind of vaccine race.

The fear is not so much that China and the US will deny a vaccine to others.

It's more than the scale of providing the almost unbelievable number of doses required for the global population means concerted action is essential across research, manufacturing, and distribution.

Donald Trump's approach is consistent with his "America First" credo – an outlook that is accentuated as his re-election battle moves into higher gear.

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