Trump does not participate in G-20 event on global pandemic preparedness

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President Donald Trump waves as he plays golf at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. On Saturday, November 21, 2020.

Manuel Balce Ceneta | AP Photo

President Donald trump Saturday did not participate in a virtual G-20 session on global response efforts coronavirus and better pandemic preparedness, even as Covid-19 cases rise and break daily records in the United States

Top leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies released video messages for the virtual session on pandemic preparedness, including leaders from Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy and South Korea. Trump did not deliver a message for the event and there does not appear to be a U.S. presence at the session.

Trump attended the opening ceremonies of the virtual summit hosted by Saudi Arabia with the rest of the G-20 leaders. The president then visited his golf course, the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., Where he has spent the last weekends since the election.

The White House, in a statement released later Saturday, said Trump had discussed with world leaders the need to restore economic growth and jobs as the world battles the coronavirus, and reaffirmed the importance of the G-20 for future prosperity.

It was not clear for most of the week whether Trump would attend the final G-20 summit before stepping down. The president is not expected to appear again at the G-20 until Sunday morning.

More than 57 million people have been infected and more than 1.3 million have died from the virus worldwide during the pandemic as world leaders struggle to produce a coordinated response.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (top left), US President Donald Trump (top right), South Korean President Moon Jae-in (bottom left) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (bottom C) are seen on a screen ahead of the start of a virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia and hosted by videoconference amid the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, in Brussels on 21 November 2020.

YVES HERMAN | AFP | Getty Images

Several G-20 leaders have called for a fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and the strengthening of the World Health Organization, the agency that takes the lead in the fight against the pandemic and coordinates the distribution of vaccines in the world.

The Trump administration announced its withdrawal from the WHO this summer and chose not to participate in the agency’s plan to distribute a vaccine called COVAX.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for international cooperation to provide a vaccine for all and build a system that allows the first doses of the vaccine to be directed to the least developed countries. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for better funding.

“To beat the pandemic, every nation must have access to the vaccine and be able to afford it,” Merkel said at the event. “We need reliable funding, better cooperation, more independence.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the leaders that Russia is ready to distribute its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to other countries and is working on a second and third vaccine.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said China is ready to accelerate the development and distribution of vaccines globally. China currently has five candidate vaccines in phase III trials.

Trump, who lost the Nov. 3 election but did not concede, has not attended a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force for several months and has not responded to questions from the press on the pandemic.

The United States broke another daily record for new Covid-19 cases on Friday, with more than 195,500 confirmed cases and at least 1,800 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The increase in cases is leading to increased hospitalizations and deaths, with more than 82,100 people currently hospitalized across the country – a number higher than at any time during the pandemic.

– Reuters contributed to this report

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