The United States of America has decided to sanction the WHO for failing to keep the pandemic in check, while the UK Government has decided to increase funding for the organisation.
This funding decision will effectively make the UK the highest donor to the World Health Organisation, with the USA pulling out completely. According to the Guardian, Boris Johnson is set to announce an increase of £340 million to the capital that the WHO currently receives from Britain already. The pledge will be fulfilled over a period of four years, which is a 30% increase from the previous four-year commitment. The United States, by contrast, announced its decision to end sponsorship with a year’s notice, after it deemed the WHO to be “corrupt and under China’s influence”.
Boris Johnson’s plan includes a global network of research hubs, greater vaccine manufacturing capacity, and an agreement to reduce export tariffs imposed at the start of COVID-19. Another international WHO effort that the UK Government will be wholly supporting is Covax, which is a collaborative effort across the globe to procure and distribute vaccines. It will secure purchasing rights for 27 million doses, and a further arrangement to provide £500 million for this initiative. Britain joins 172 other countries in doing so.
On the other hand, the NHS appears to be struggling to deal with the effects of the pandemic. According to the Guardian, NHS England’s Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, has told the Treasury that the organisation needs at least £10bn in extra funding this year in order to cover the costs of fighting the virus and reopening normal services. Waiting lists are also at the highest levels since records began due to coronavirus.
Public sector debt has now risen above £2 trillion for the first time in history, as the Government was forced to borrow cash to keep services afloat. Various media outlets have been reporting since the middle of last year on the need to ration various procedures due to deficits, with the latest being the rationing of COVID-19 tests across England due to a lack of facilities.