President Biden and other world leaders, including António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, gather virtually for a small roundtable on Wednesday to launch a global summit, convened by the White House, aimed at forging a global consensus around of a plan to fight the coronavirus crisis.
The opening discussion, “Calling the World to Account and Vaccinating the World,” will be moderated by Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Ambassador of Biden to the United Nations. Participants will include other presidents and prime ministers, including President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom.
White House officials have said Mr Biden’s message to the group will be that the United States cannot tackle the pandemic alone or cope with the global vaccine shortage. Earlier Wednesday, Pfizer-BioNTech announced that it had reached an agreement with the Biden administration to sell the United States an additional 500 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine, to be donated to countries in need.
Executives of pharmaceutical companies, philanthropists and leaders of nonprofits have also been invited to the summit, which is called by Mr. Biden to coincide with the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Administration officials say it is the largest gathering of heads of state yet to fight the global pandemic.
Mr Biden has come under intense pressure from global health experts to do more to address the vaccine shortage. Less than 10 percent of the population in poor countries – and less than 4 percent of Africa’s population – have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Covax, the WHO-backed international immunization initiative, is behind schedule in delivering vaccines to low and middle-income countries most in need.
At a briefing hosted by Physicians for Human Rights earlier this week, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organization, issued an emergency note and called on nations to they work together to distribute vaccines in a coordinated and equitable manner. – fashion. She also urged countries to share their excess supplies.
“A country-by-country approach, a nationalist approach, will not get us out of this pandemic,” she said. “And that’s where we are today.”