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US helped raise $3.1bn for global pandemic response, but much more needed

12 May 2022 - 14:05 By Ahmed Aboulenein
US President Joe Biden has asked the US Congress for billions of dollars in additional funding to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. File image.
US President Joe Biden has asked the US Congress for billions of dollars in additional funding to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. File image.
Image: JONATHAN ERNST/ REUTERS

The US helped raise more than $3.1bn (about R50.24bn) in commitments to the international pandemic response before the second global Covid-19 summit, but the US Congress needs to authorise more funds, a senior White House official said.

The summit, jointly hosted by the US, Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal, will be held virtually on Thursday for countries to discuss efforts to end the pandemic and prepare for future health threats.

It is set to build on efforts and commitments made at the first global summit in September, including getting more people vaccinated, sending tests and treatments to highest-risk populations, expanding protections to healthcare workers and generating financing for pandemic preparedness.

“To date, the summit has leveraged more than $3.1bn in commitments. These are additional to what has been raised at other points in 2022, they are on top of existing commitments,” said the official, who did not reveal the source of the new funds.

“That would not have happened without US leadership. But if the US is to remain a leader, protecting Americans and the world from dangerous disease threats, we need Congress to act now to provide more funding for the Covid-19 response.”

President Joe Biden asked Congress for more than $22.5bn (about R364bn) in additional Covid-19 response funds, including $5bn (about R81bn) for international aid, but lawmakers have failed to pass any funding bill and those negotiating the package have been unable to agree on how to pay for the global response.

The US will contribute an additional $200m (about R3.24bn) to the global health fund for future pandemic preparedness at the World Bank, the official said, bringing its total contribution to $450bn (about R7.29-trillion).

“The overarching purposes of the summit are twofold: one is to redouble our efforts to control Covid-19 and the second is to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic,” the official told reporters on a press call.

At least 14 other countries — Canada, Colombia, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Rwanda, SA, South Korea, Spain and Tanzania — as well as the World Health Organisation, European Commission, private sector companies such as Google, and non-governmental organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will attend the summit.

The US has delivered more than 500-million doses of vaccines to more than 100 countries as part of the 1.2-billion doses it pledged at the first summit in September and has already committed more than $19bn (about R308.08bn) in funding for vaccines, tests, treatments and other forms of assistance, the official said.

Reuters


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