U.S. President Joe Biden announced Friday a $4 billion pledge to a global campaign to bolster the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries.
At his first meeting as president with world leaders at the Munich Security Conference, Biden announced financial support for COVAX, a coalition tasked with distributing vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.
“Even as we fight to get out of the teeth of this pandemic, a resurgence of Ebola in Africa is a stark reminder that we must simultaneously work to finally finance health security, strengthen global health systems, and create early warning systems to prevent, detect and respond to future biological threats because they will keep coming,” Biden said at the virtual meeting.
Biden pledged $2 billion that will fund the COVAX program through 2022. The pledge follows an initial $2 billion contribution that the U.S. Congress appropriated two months ago that should be released by the end of this month.
The COVAX program is jointly operated by the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the WHO after accusing it of covering up China’s blunders in managing the virus at the start of the public health crisis.
“We have to work together to strengthen and reform the World Health Organization,” Biden said. “We need a U.N. system focused on biological threats that can move quickly to trigger action.”
Biden used the financial commitment to encourage G-7 partners to fulfill their pledges to the COVAX program and make additional investments in international vaccine development and distribution.
Also on Friday, the United States officially rejoined the Paris climate accord, the most comprehensive global effort to combat global warming. Biden warned of dire consequences if nations don’t do more to reduce carbon emissions.
“We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change,” he said. “This is a global existential crisis. We will all suffer the consequences if we fail.”
Biden called on world leaders to “rapidly accelerate our commitments to aggressively curb our emissions and hold one another accountable for meeting our goals and increasing our ambitions.”
Biden previously said he would consider climate change when reviewing every major domestic and foreign policy decision his administration faces.
Source: Voice of America