President Joe Biden will call on world leaders to vaccinate 70% of Earth’s population by next year, according to White House documents. However, setting this goal can be considerably easier than achieving it.
Biden will host a virtual summit next week for heads of state, NGO and private sector leaders, aimed at rallying these figures to “Come together to commit to ending the Covid-19 pandemic”, according to an invitation seen by the Washington Post.
As part of that pledge, Biden will pressure everyone involved to have at least 70 percent of the world’s population vaccinated by next September, according to a list of draft targets released by the White House. Other goals include increasing production of vaccines, tests, therapeutics and protective equipment, creating a “Global Health Threats Council” to respond to future emergencies and increased aid flows to low- and middle-income countries.
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Vaccinating 70% of the planet is an ambitious goal. The United States itself has yet to meet this target, with just over 60% of the population vaccinated. Globally, only 43% of people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with coverage in some low-income countries of less than 2%.
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) called this disparity “unacceptable,” blame “Export bans, prioritization of bilateral agreements by manufacturers and countries, current challenges in increasing production from some key producers and delays in filing for regulatory approval.”
Even in the United States, reaching 70% has proven difficult for the Biden administration. After a summer of trying to persuade Americans to roll up their sleeves, the president turned to more coercive measures, saying last week that “our patience is running out” because he ordered private companies to require employees to get bitten or submit to weekly tests. The ordinance, which will be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, comes in addition to vaccination warrants for federal employees and a call for private companies to deny entry to unvaccinated people.
Workers at at least one hospital have already quit during Biden’s last term.
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While vaccination is effective in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19, its effectiveness decreases over time, and it does not stop the transmission of the disease. Even in countries like Israel, where vaccination is widespread, the number of cases continues to rise.
The Biden administration plans to roll out booster shots of the vaccine later this month, pending regulatory approval. If other countries follow suit, recall programs could further jeopardize efforts to get doses to poorer countries.
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