April 8, 2022 – Now just isn’t the time for the U.S. Congress to chop worldwide COVID-19 funding, says Well being and Human Providers Secretary Xavier Becerra, JD, as a result of we’re so near “crushing” COVID-19 this yr.
A Senate deal introduced April 4 allotted $10 billion to a coronavirus assist bundle that continues funding for vaccination, remedy, and testing in the USA. However the bundle didn’t embrace a further $5 billion to fund worldwide COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The US has lengthy been a powerful supporter of the worldwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” World Well being Group Director-Basic Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, stated at an April 7 joint HHS/WHO briefing in honor of World Well being Day.
“We proceed to look to the U.S. for its assist to finish the pandemic globally, and to deal with the numerous different challenges to well being we face,” he stated.
Extra Cash Wanted
Becerra sees Congress’s transfer as short-sighted. “Our combat just isn’t over. Whereas we’re grateful for the Senate’s newest work on a $10 billion bipartisan plan to assist meet a number of the nation’s COVID wants considerably, extra is required to fund each our home response and our world response.”
With out world funding, Becerra stated, the U.S. Agency for International Development is not going to have sources “to get extra pictures in arms around the globe. We will probably be pressured to reduce our work offering oxygen and antiviral tablets to others in want. We’ll lack the funding to supply fast testing to international locations in want at each flip.”
Serving to all international locations attain the WHO aim of vaccinating at the least 70% of their populations “is within the curiosity of the USA itself,” Tedros stated.
On a uncommon go to to Washington, DC, for World Well being Day, he stated: “I’m painfully conscious that the pandemic has taken a heavy toll right here within the U.S. I provide my deep condolences to all Individuals who’ve misplaced somebody they love.”
Tedros additionally acknowledged the sacrifices and dangers taken by front-line well being care employees. “And I provide my deep appreciation and respect to each well being employee who has put themselves in hurt’s strategy to serve others in the midst of the pandemic.”
A Alternative Can Be Made
Becerra and Tedros stay optimistic that Congress will act to fund world COVID-19 efforts.
“I understand how troublesome generally it may be to cross crucial laws, however we are able to make a selection. We will – as I heard one member of Congress say yesterday – crush COVID and end the job that we gave the impression to be getting near doing,” Becerra stated. “Or we are able to let it surge again.”
“And I believe everybody understands what it means if COVID surges again or some new variant comes round.”
In response to a journalist’s query, Tedros agreed that vaccination numbers stay low in lots of areas. For example, 83% of individuals in Africa nonetheless usually are not vaccinated, he stated.
“We’re on the 1-yard line, prepared to attain the landing,” Becerra stated. “Let’s simply crush COVID and pull the staff off the sphere.”
Requested how he would reply if Congress doesn’t restore the funding, Becerra stated, “Failure just isn’t an choice. I do not suppose anybody desires to return to lockdowns and watching their family members cross, and never having the ability to be with them after they’re of their best want.”
“We will not return to that.”