By withdrawing from the World Health Organization, vaccine researchers from the US will no longer have a seat at the table in deciding which variants of the flu virus should be used for vaccinations.

Twice a year, influenza experts from 10 institutions around the world meet at the World Health Organization’s Geneva headquarters to pore over mounds of data. At the end of the weeklong meetings, they make decisions that affect people around the world: namely, which variants of the flu virus should be used for vaccinations the following season.

While the selections don’t always hit the mark — influenza is notoriously hard to predict — it’s the best process health officials have to keep flu vaccines up to date and try to protect people from the annual scourge.

Now, with the pending withdrawal of the United States from the WHO, the future of the process — or at least America’s involvement in it — is in question. President Trump has criticized the global health agency’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and other earlier health crises; he has cited that as his rationale for withdrawing from the WHO, which was established more than 60 years ago.

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