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 yr.
A Senate deal introduced April 4 allotted $10 billion to a coronavirus support package deal that continues funding for vaccination, remedy, and testing in the US. However the package deal didn’t embody an extra $5 billion to fund worldwide COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The USA has lengthy been a powerful supporter of the worldwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” World Well being Group Director-Common 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 deal with the various different challenges to well being we face,” he stated.
Extra Cash Wanted
Becerra sees Congress’s transfer as short-sighted. “Our combat is just not over. Whereas we’re grateful for the Senate’s newest work on a $10 billion bipartisan plan to assist meet among 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 world wide. We will likely be compelled to reduce our work offering oxygen and antiviral capsules to others in want. We’ll lack the funding to offer fast testing to international locations in want at each flip.”
Serving to all international locations attain the WHO aim of vaccinating not less than 70% of their populations “is within the curiosity of the US itself,” Tedros stated.
On a uncommon go to to Washington, DC, for Phrase 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 option 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 tough generally it may be to go important laws, however we are able to make a selection. We are able to – as I heard one member of Congress say yesterday – crush COVID and end the job that we appeared 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 will not be 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 group off the sphere.”
Requested how he would reply if Congress doesn’t restore the funding, Becerra stated, “Failure is just not an possibility. I do not assume anybody needs to return to lockdowns and watching their family members go, and never having the ability to be with them after they’re of their best want.”
“We will not return to that.”