WASHINGTON – President Biden, who declared coronavirus an “all-hands-on-deck crisis,” set ambitious goals on Wednesday to end the pandemic, calling on world leaders, pharmaceutical companies, philanthropists and nonprofits to target vaccination Adopt 70 percent of the world by next year.
But the course that Mr Biden took at a virtual Covid-19 summit that he convened on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York could be difficult to translate into reality. And there is growing pressure on the president to rely more on US pharmaceutical manufacturers who are resisting sharing their Covid-19 technology with poorer countries.
The one-day meeting, the largest gathering of heads of state to fight the pandemic, reflected Mr Biden’s determination to reestablish the United States as a leader in global health after President Donald J. Trump severed ties with the World Health Organization last year too Beginning of the corona crisis.
Mr Biden announced a number of measures including the purchase of an additional 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine at a charitable price to donate overseas and $ 370 million to give the vaccines. Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the United States will donate $ 250 million to a new global fund set to raise $ 10 billion to help prevent future pandemics.
“We will not solve this crisis with half measures or medium ambitions. We have to make it big, ”the president said on television. “And we have to do our part: governments, the private sector, civil society leaders, philanthropists.”
Still, Mr Biden’s summit has sparked some resentment towards the United States among those who criticized the government for hoarding vaccines and not doing enough to help developing countries make their own vaccines. Others said the government was seeking recognition of a plan that was already in place.
“This is not really new, but the financial strength of what you put on the table is of course new,” said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, a French virologist and former top official of the WHO, in an interview. The organization has already set a goal of vaccinating 70 percent of people in low and middle income countries by September next year.
“The US wants to get involved,” she added, “but they still don’t know exactly how to get involved in the new world that has developed in their absence.”
Mr Biden has also been criticized for offering booster doses to fully vaccinated Americans while millions of people around the world, including healthcare workers, have not yet received a first dose. Speaking to the United Nations on Wednesday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said such inequalities are hampering efforts to rebuild the world economy, which require trust and investment.
“The surest way to build that trust is to make vaccines available to the world in a fair and accessible manner,” said Kenyatta. “Unfortunately that is not the case at the moment. The asymmetry in the supply of vaccines reflects a multilateral system that urgently needs to be repaired. “
In his opening speech, Mr Biden identified two particularly pressing challenges: vaccinating the world against Covid-19 and solving a global oxygen shortage that leads to unnecessary deaths in Covid-19 patients who could survive if oxygen were more readily available.
But as soon as the President finished his speech and the television cameras were turned off, the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries and companies to immediately exchange doses, intellectual property and technical know-how for manufacturing vaccines, according to one person who attended the summit and took notes on the remarks.
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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was also pointed, the person said. Mr Ramaphosa called vaccine injustices “unjust and immoral” and reiterated his suggestion that developing countries should be able to manufacture their own doses.
More than 4.7 million people around the world and more than 678,000 in the United States have died of Covid-19 – a “global tragedy,” Biden said. While three-quarters of Americans received at least one coronavirus shot, fewer than 10 percent of the population of poor countries – and less than 4 percent of the African population – have been fully vaccinated.
According to Oxford University’s Our World in Data project, 79 percent of shots administered worldwide were in high- and middle-income countries. Covax, the WHO-supported international vaccine initiative, has lagged behind delivering vaccinations to the low and middle-income countries that need it most.
At a briefing held by Physicians for Human Rights this week, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, encouraged nations to work together to distribute vaccines in a coordinated and equitable manner. She also urged countries to share their excess supplies.
“A country-specific approach, a nationalist approach, is not going to get us out of this pandemic,” she said. “And here we are today.”
Understand US vaccination and mask requirements
- Vaccination rules. On August 23, the Food and Drug Administration fully approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people aged 16 and over, paving the way for increased mandates in both the public and private sectors. Private companies are increasingly demanding vaccines for employees. Such mandates are legally permissible and have been confirmed in legal challenges.
- Mask rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July recommended that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in public places indoors in areas with outbreaks, reversing the guidelines offered in May. See where the CDC guidelines would apply and where states have implemented their own mask guidelines. The battle over masks is controversial in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- College and Universities. More than 400 colleges and universities require a vaccination against Covid-19. Almost all of them are in states that voted for President Biden.
- schools. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine mandates for educational staff. A survey published in August found that many American parents of school-age children are against mandatory vaccines for students but are more likely to support masking requirements for students, teachers and staff who are not vaccinated.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and large health systems require their employees to have a Covid-19 vaccine, due to rising case numbers due to the Delta variant and persistently low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their workforce.
- New York City. Proof of vaccination is required by workers and customers for indoor dining, gyms, performances, and other indoor situations, though enforcement doesn’t begin until September 13th. Teachers and other educational workers in the city’s vast school system are required to have at least one vaccine dose by September 27, without the option of weekly testing. Municipal hospital staff must also be vaccinated or have weekly tests. Similar rules apply to employees in New York State.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon announced that it would make coronavirus vaccinations compulsory for the country’s 1.3 million active soldiers “by mid-September at the latest. President Biden announced that all civil federal employees would need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo regular tests, social distancing, mask requirements and travel restrictions.
Experts estimate that it takes 11 billion doses to achieve widespread global immunity. By Wednesday, the US had promised to donate more than 600 million cans. The additional 500 million Mr Biden pledged brings the US’s total exposure to 1.1 billion cans, more than any other country.
“In other words, for every single syringe we have to pay in America, we are now committed to giving the rest of the world three syringes,” said Mr. Biden.
But activists, global health experts and world leaders say donated doses will not be enough. They are asking the Biden government to do more to expand vaccine production around the world, particularly in Africa where the need is greatest.
“The Covid-19 pandemic reminds us of the importance of diversifying manufacturing centers around the world,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who has suffered one of the biggest spikes in cases, in his speech at the General Assembly. “We know nobody is safe until everyone is safe.”
Since Covax was founded in April 2020, the landscape to get firearms has become increasingly difficult. Some Asian countries have imposed tariffs and other trade restrictions on Covid-19 vaccines, slowing their delivery. India, home of the world’s largest vaccine maker, has banned coronavirus vaccine exports since April, though officials say they will resume next month.
In his opening address, Mr. Biden called on other wealthy nations to meet their donation commitments. He also appeared to shoot a veiled shot at China, which was not attending the summit and mostly sells its vaccine to other countries – instead of donating it.
“We should unite around the world on some principles: that we commit to donating cans to low- and low-income countries, not selling – donating, not selling, and that donations are unconditional” said the president called.
He also announced a vaccine partnership with the European Union, saying the United States would work to increase production overseas through a partnership with India, Japan and Australia that was “on track to deliver at least 1 billion vaccine doses in India manufacture to promote global development “. Delivery by the end of 2022. “
However, the cans donated by the Biden administration have slowly been leaked. So far, 157 million have been shipped overseas. Dr. Peter J. Hotez, an infectious disease expert at Texas Children’s Hospital who helped develop an India-made coronavirus vaccine, said the president should have provided “an open articulation of the extent” of the shortage.
“We don’t need it until 2023,” said Dr. Hotez. “We need it now, for the next six to eight months.”
Rick Gladstone contributed the coverage from New York.