Nations join WHO in virus initiative, but not U.S.

Several world powers including United Kingdom, France, Germany, and South Africa joined what the World Health Organization has dubbed a "landmark collaboration" to fight the new coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative is designed to accelerate work on tests, drugs and vaccines against COVID-19 and to share them around the globe.

This was the WHO director general on Friday (April 24):

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WHO DIRECTOR GENERAL, TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, SAYING:

"Today, WHO is proud to be uniting with many partners to launch the "Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator" or the ACT accelerator.

WHITE FLASH

''Our shared commitment is to ensure all people have access to all the tools to the to defeat COVID-19."

Notable abscences from world leaders included Australia, China and the U.S..

President Donald Trump recently suspended funding for the U.N. agency, after claiming that the WHO was slow react to the crisis, and called them “China-centric."

But a spokesman earlier told Reuters that although not attending the launch, the United States was determined to lead on global health matters.

The WHO has steadfastly defended their handling of the pandemic and repeatedly committed to conducting a post-pandemic evaluation.

More than 2.7 million people have been infected with COVID-19.

According to a Reuters tally, nearly 190,000 have died from it since the new coronavirus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

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