The president of the United States, Joe Biden, inaugurated this Thursday the second global summit on COVID and urged the rulers of the world to renew their commitment to fight against the virus, warning that his own country is approaching the ‘tragic milestone’ of 1 million deaths for the coronavirus.
“This pandemic is not over yet,” Biden declared to kick off the summit. “Today we have a tragic milestone here in America: 1 million deaths from COVID, 1 million empty chairs around the family table.” ”.
The mandatary ordered to fly the flags at half-staff and affirmed that the world should not be satisfied with the progress made so far against the pandemic.
A COVID vaccination post in the United States. Photo: REUTERS
The virus has caused more than 999,000 deaths in the United States and at least 6.2 million worldwide since it emerged in late 2019, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Biden ordered half-staff to be held until sunset Monday at honor to the dead of the virus.
The demand for vaccines against COVID-19 has decreased in some countries after infections and deaths have fallen around the world in recent months, not least because Omicron has proven less severe than previous variants of the virus.
For the first time since its inception, the UN-backed COVAX fund has “enough doses to enable countries to meet their vaccination targets,” according to Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the Gavi vaccine alliance, which leads COVAX.
However, even though More than 65% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, less than 16% of the inhabitants of poor countries have been immunized. Countries are highly unlikely to meet the World Health Organization target of vaccinating 70% of the population by June.
The US Congress has been reluctant to approve new funding for COVID vaccines. Photo: EFE
In countries like Cameroon, Uganda and the Ivory Coast, authorities have struggled to get enough coolers to transport the vaccines, send enough vials for mass campaigns and get enough health workers to inject the vaccines.
Experts also point out that more than half of the health workers needed to administer vaccines in the poorest countries are underpaid or not paid at all.
Hesitancy when it comes to funds
The president asked the US Congress to provide more funding for tests, vaccines and treatmentssomething lawmakers have been reluctant to pass until now.
The lack of funds — Biden has requested an additional $22.5 billion that he sees as crucial — is a reflection of a lack of will at home, and jeopardizes the global response to the pandemic.
Eight months after the first summit, in which he announced the ambitious pledge to donate 1.2 billion vaccines to the world, the sense of urgency for the United States and other countries to respond it disappears.
has decreased the drive to distribute vaccines and treatments, while that the most infectious variants increase and millions of people in the world are not immunized.
Biden kicked off the virtual summit with a pre-recorded speech in which he said fighting COVID-19 “must remain an international priority.” The summit is hosted by the United States, Germany, Indonesia, Senegal and Belize.
“This summit is a opportunity to renew our efforts and keep our foot on the gas to bring this pandemic under control and prevent future health crises,” Biden said.
Efforts to prevent a future pandemic
Throughout the meeting, presidents and Prime Ministers from different countries spoke, including Iván Duque (Colombia), Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand), Mario Draghi (Italy) and Fumio Kishida (Japan), as well as health experts and other officials.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was among those who spoke at the summit. Photo: REUTERS
Although they all highlighted the achievements to date and reviewed the contributions that each country has made to combat the pandemic, the common feature of all their presentations was the emphasis on the need to continue assisting the countries with the lowest rates of vaccination and strengthen global health responses to prevent a new event of this type.
“We must strengthen the architecture of the global health system to offer responses in the face of a future pandemic,” said Japanese Prime Minister Kishida in his presentation, who proposed reforming the WHO and adding more funds to the World Bank for that purpose.
The United States, for its part, pledged to increase its initial contribution to the creation of a new global health security and pandemic preparedness fund at the World Bank by an additional $200 million, bringing its total commitment will be 450 million dollars.