April 8, 2022 – Now is just not the time for the U.S. Congress to chop worldwide COVID-19 funding, says Well being and Human Companies 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 support bundle that continues funding for vaccination, remedy, and testing in the US. However the bundle didn’t embrace an extra $5 billion to fund worldwide COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The USA has lengthy been a robust supporter of the worldwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” World Well being Group Director-Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, mentioned 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 handle the numerous different challenges to well being we face,” he mentioned.
Extra Cash Wanted
Becerra sees Congress’s transfer as short-sighted. “Our struggle is just not 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 mentioned, the U.S. Company for Worldwide Improvement won’t have assets “to get extra photographs in arms around the globe. We can be pressured to cut back our work offering oxygen and antiviral tablets to others in want. We are going to lack the funding to offer fast testing to nations in want at each flip.”
Serving to all nations attain the WHO purpose of vaccinating at the least 70% of their populations “is within the curiosity of the US itself,” Tedros mentioned.
On a uncommon go to to Washington, DC, for World Well being Day, he mentioned: “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 approach to serve others in the middle 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 typically it may be to cross important laws, however we will 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 mentioned. “Or we will let it surge again.”
“And I feel 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 should not vaccinated, he mentioned.
“We’re on the 1-yard line, prepared to attain the landing,” Becerra mentioned. “Let’s simply crush COVID and pull the crew off the sphere.”
Requested how he would reply if Congress doesn’t restore the funding, Becerra mentioned, “Failure is just not an choice. I do not suppose anybody desires to return to lockdowns and watching their family members cross, and never with the ability to be with them once they’re of their biggest want.”
“We will not return to that.”