U.S. Leads the World’s Virus Fight? That’s News to the World

WASHINGTON — A new Democratic plan for confronting the coronavirus echoes what much of the rest of the West has been saying for months: that the United States has stepped back from the global response just as it is needed most.

Whether that means halting funding to the World Health Organization, skipping a vaccine donor conference in Europe or barring foreign health workers in poor nations from buying masks and gloves with American aid, the Trump administration’s retrenchment has alarmed allies and allowed China to take a larger, if contentious, public role in the worldwide efforts.

The diplomatic withdrawal may also include cutting ties with the W.H.O. when the administration concludes a monthslong review this summer that has sought to identify alternate organizations with which to work.

“Our experience in the past is that no matter what the geopolitical tensions were, it was possible to bring countries together around health — particularly when there was an outbreak and a real crisis,” said Ilona Kickbusch, the founding director and chairwoman of the global health program at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.