As President Biden met with heads of state for a Covid-19 summit, Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday announced that the United States would contribute at least $ 250 million to a new global health security fund that the administration hopes to raise $ 10 billion to fight against future pandemics.
Declaring the coronavirus pandemic a ‘stern warning’ to an increasingly interconnected world, Ms Harris called on international unity to address the lack of funding for pandemic preparedness highlighted by flaws in the global response at Covid-19. The collective goal of $ 10 billion would be spent on a range of issues, such as disease surveillance, vaccine development and support for healthcare workers, to counter future biological threats.
“We need to act so that our world is ready to respond before and not after the next pandemic emerges,” Ms. Harris said, adding that the Biden administration had asked Congress for an additional $ 850 million for the new fund.
Perhaps acknowledging the political challenges that securing such funding from US lawmakers would face, Ms Harris said the administration supported the creation of a “global council on health threats” to ensure the transparency and accountability of all nations that undertake to finance the fund.
The announcement comes as the Biden administration and U.S. pharmaceutical companies are under increasing pressure to deal with the global Covid-19 vaccine shortage. As part of the administration’s efforts, Biden also announced a new partnership with the European Union on Wednesday to expand access to vaccines.
In a statement detailing a joint strategy with the United States to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population by next September, the European Union said it would donate 500 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine and step up coordination efforts with its American counterparts to deliver and administer them. . The European Union has pledged to donate 200 million doses by the end of 2021, but its member countries had only given 21 million doses in early September, according to official figures.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, has named global immunization the bloc’s most urgent priority for the coming year: “The extent of injustice and the level urgency are evident, ”said von der Leyen. in a state of the union speech last week.