April 8, 2022 – Now will not be 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 12 months.
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 embody an extra $5 billion to fund worldwide COVID-19 vaccinations.
“America has lengthy been a powerful supporter of the worldwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” World Well being Group Director-Normal 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 help to finish the pandemic globally, and to handle the numerous different challenges to well being we face,” he stated.
Extra Cash Wanted
Becerra sees Congress’s transfer as short-sighted. “Our combat will not be 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 international response.”
With out international funding, Becerra stated, the U.S. Agency for International Development won’t have assets “to get extra photographs in arms around the globe. We shall be pressured to reduce our work offering oxygen and antiviral drugs to others in want. We’ll lack the funding to supply speedy testing to nations in want at each flip.”
Serving to all nations attain the WHO aim of vaccinating at the very 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 supply 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 supply 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 international COVID-19 efforts.
“I understand how troublesome typically it may be to cross crucial laws, however we are able to make a alternative. We are able to – 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 instance, 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 crew off the sector.”
Requested how he would reply if Congress doesn’t restore the funding, Becerra stated, “Failure will not be an possibility. I do not assume 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 won’t return to that.”