United States says COVID-19 fight requires cooperative global vaccination effort

As the United States continues to vaccinate more and more of its population, many other parts of the world such as developing countries throughout Africa continue to feel the devastating effects of the pandemic and lack widespread vaccine availability.

Natasha Bilimoria, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID, asserted Thursday that the pandemic is a global crisis and requires action from the international community.

“Multilateral cooperation, through organizations like the COVAX Facility and more broadly within the ACT Accelerator, is key to ensuring that people everywhere receive safe and effective vaccines against a virus that knows no bounds,” said Bilimoria.

The Biden administration came out Wednesday in support of easing patent rules and waving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, potentially expanding the global supply and combatting vaccine distribution inequality between rich and developing nations.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines. We will actively participate in text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) needed to make that happen. Those negotiations will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved,” United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on May 5 while announcing the Biden administration’s support for waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.

“The Administration’s aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible. As our vaccine supply for the American people is secured, the Administration will continue to ramp up its efforts – working with the private sector and all possible partners – to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution.  It will also work to increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines,” Tai added.

Speaking on the coronavirus pandemic, Bilimoria said, “It has strained some of the world’s best equipped public health systems, including our own. And it continues to be a deadly and catastrophic situation for millions of people, especially in low-income countries, where financial, medical, and human resources have been shifted to secondary and tertiary care at the expense of other essential services that millions of people rely upon.”

She also spoke of the importance of the global community using this as an opportunity to adapt and transform in order to not only combat the coronavirus pandemic, but also be more prepared for addressing future health crises and existing issues.

“It is important for the global community to transition from reacting to emergencies; and go beyond preparedness and response; and now really direct attention toward fostering everyday health system resilience,” said the USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator.

While the end seems to be in sight for many in nations like the United States, many developing countries around the world have little to no access to vaccines. If the world is to move toward a more stable post-pandemic world, cooperative action is needed from the international community in order to promote health around the globe.

As countries like the United States move toward a more global perspective on resolving the COVID-19 pandemic, this brings hope to billions of people around the world- especially in developing or low-income countries that do not currently have strong vaccine distribution efforts.

While the increasing emphasis on vaccination efforts as a global issue offers hope for the future, many parts of the world continue to be ravaged by the devastating virus. India, where the coronavirus is running rampant, is currently battling an unprecedented spike in cases. The country reported 414,188 new cases Friday, shattering the global record.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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