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 help package deal that continues funding for vaccination, therapy, and testing in the US. However the package deal didn’t embrace 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 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 battle 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. Company for Worldwide Growth is not going to have assets “to get extra photographs in arms around the globe. We shall be compelled to cut back our work offering oxygen and antiviral tablets to others in want. We’ll lack the funding to supply fast testing to nations in want at each flip.”
Serving to all nations attain the WHO objective of vaccinating no 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 provide my deep condolences to all People who’ve misplaced somebody they love.”
Tedros additionally acknowledged the sacrifices and dangers taken by front-line well being care staff. “And I provide my deep appreciation and respect to each well being employee who has put themselves in hurt’s technique to serve others in the midst of the pandemic.”
A Selection 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 go vital 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 appeared to be getting near doing,” Becerra stated. “Or we are able to 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 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 sphere.”
Requested how he would reply if Congress doesn’t restore the funding, Becerra stated, “Failure is just not an choice. I do not suppose anybody desires to return to lockdowns and watching their family members go, and never having the ability to be with them after they’re of their biggest want.”
“We will not return to that.”