Biden gathers support for global pandemic summit

Biden exiting plane
Biden exit plane

US Embassy, Bern, Switzerland / Flickr cc

Yesterday, President Biden invited world leaders to a virtual summit on ending the pandemic, with a goal of vaccinating at least 70% of the world by next September, according to the Washington Post.

At a World Health Organization (WHO) briefing today, health officials—including several from African groups—welcomed the partnership, but said there are urgent steps countries can take now to free up more vaccine doses for countries that don't have enough access.

Summit goal: vaccinate 70% of world over the next year

In the invitation to world leaders, Biden called on governments, international groups, and philanthropic and nongovernmental organizations to commit to ending the pandemic by taking concrete actions and setting targets, according to the Post.

Aside from fully vaccinating 70% of the population by the start of next year's United Nations General Assembly—a year from now—the goals also address the supply of diagnostic supplies, oxygen, and medical equipment.

Generally, the goals align with those previously set by the WHO and its partner groups.

At a WHO briefing today that focused on Africa and vaccine equity, John Nkengasong, MSc, PhD, head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said, "Any partnership and any announcement from President Biden that would enable us to get to 70% will be highly welcome."

Also at today's briefing, Strive Masiyiwa, the African Union's special envoy for COVID-19, said the African region welcomes vaccine donations, but he emphasized that African countries also want to buy vaccine. He said ending export bans on vaccine and vaccine ingredients is even more urgent than waiving intellectual property rights, because lifting export bans can have an immediate effect on freeing up vaccine purchases.

He called on countries to immediately end the bans, including the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, and India.

At today's briefing, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said of 5.7 billion doses administered globally, only 2% have been administered in Africa. Currently, 3.18% of Africa's population is fully vaccinated, according to the Africa CDC.

More global headlines

  • UK vaccine advisors today, anticipating continued spread of COVID-19 in the winter months alongside other respiratory viruses, recommended expanding booster doses to more groups, including all adults older than 50 and others at high risk, including those with underlying health conditions and frontline health workers. Also, medical officials from four UK nations recommended that all adolescents ages 12 to 15 years old should be offered COVID-19 vaccination to avoid school disruptions, according to Reuters.

  • Elsewhere, Israeli officials are considering offering a fourth dose if needed, and Cuba said it will begin immunizing children as young as 2 years old, the first country to vaccinate kids that young, according to the New York Times. Cuba uses a domestically developed vaccine called Soberana and Soberana Plus.

  • In China, outbreaks in Fujian province—located in the southeast—are now reported in three cities, including Xiamen, a transportation hub that has a population of 5 million people, according to Reuters.

  • The global total today rose to 225,585,522 cases, along with 4,644,508 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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