WASHINGTON: The United States helped raise over $3.1 billion in commitments to the international pandemic response ahead of the second global COVID-19 summit, but the US Congress needs to authorize more funds, a senior White House official said.
The summit, jointly hosted by the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal, will be held virtually on Thursday for countries to discuss efforts to end the pandemic and prepare for future health threats.
It is set to build on efforts and commitments made at the first global summit in September, including getting more people vaccinated, sending tests and treatments to highest-risk populations, expanding protections to health-care workers, and generating financing for pandemic preparedness.
“To date, the summit has leveraged in new money more than $3.1 billion in commitments. These are additional to what has been raised at other points in 2022, they are on top of existing commitments,” said the official, who did not reveal the source of the new funds.
“That would not have happened without US leadership. But if the US is to remain a leader, protecting Americans and the world from dangerous disease threats, we need Congress to act now to provide more funding for the COVID response.”
President Joe Biden asked Congress for over $22.5 billion in additional COVID-19 response funds, including $5 billion for international aid, but lawmakers have failed to pass any funding bill and those negotiating the package have been unable to agree on how to pay for the global response.
The United States will contribute an additional $200 million to the global health fund for future pandemic preparedness at the World Bank, the senior administration official said, bringing its total contribution to $450 million.
“The overarching purposes of the summit are really twofold; one is to redouble our efforts to control COVID-19 and the second is to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic,” the official told reporters on a press call.
At least 14 other countries – Canada, Colombia, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Spain and Tanzania – as well as the World Health Organization, European Commission, private-sector companies like Google, and non-governmental organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will attend the summit.
The United States has delivered over 500 million doses of vaccines to over 100 countries as part of the 1.2 billion doses it pledged at the first summit in September and has already committed over $19 billion in funding for vaccines, tests, treatments, and other forms of assistance, the official said.