$17 billion needed to help end the COVID-19 pandemic

TACOMA, Wash. – On Dec. 17, 2021, 12 congressional leaders sent an open letter to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, urging the committees to include at least $17 billion in additional funding for FY22 in order to expand the United States’ global response to COVID-19 in order to end the COVID-19 pandemic. On February 8, 2022, the House of Representatives approved a short-term funding measure to keep government open until mid-March 2022 to continue negotiations on the FY22 supply package.

US action to combat COVID-19

Over the past two years, the United States has taken action to combat COVID-19 by providing assistance to low- and middle-income countries. In December 2020, Congress approved the allocation of $4 billion for the global distribution of vaccines through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Additionally, in March 2021, Congress approved $11 billion for global foreign aid funding as part of the U.S. bailout. USAID has also contributed more than $9 billion to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there remain significant funding gaps in the global response to the fight against COVID-19, enough that in October 2021 USAID testified before Congress that its global resources are rapidly running out. Increasing this support is more important than ever due to the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to threaten lives and undermine global efforts to reduce poverty.

In order to protect lives and ensure that global poverty reduction continues on an upward trend, it is imperative to reduce vaccine inequities and increase vaccination rates worldwide. The December 2021 letter to Congress reads: “We must end this cycle by prioritizing weapons firings around the world as soon as possible, especially in low- and lower-middle-income countries, which do not have the resources to vaccinate their populations. .”

The additional funding of $17 billion will cover the delivery of vaccines, including equipment and resources such as PPE, support for frontline health workers and educational campaigns, to ensure the success of last mile efforts to distribute vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable populations.

The impact of COVID-19 on global poverty

Although global poverty rates fell before the pandemic, experts predicted a significant increase in poverty as a result of the pandemic – 150 million more people impoverished by the end of 2021. Confirming these economic struggles, a study based on data from an April 2020 survey found that, in low- and middle-income countries, “the median share of households” facing income reductions was 70%. The same study indicates that “87% of rural households” in Sierra Leone faced food insecurity, while in Kenya, “violence against women and children [increased by]4% and 13%, respectively” during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered school closures around the world, creating devastating consequences for children’s education. While wealthier countries with resources have been able to implement remote learning so that children can continue their education, poor communities in developing countries have not been so fortunate. Lack of technology poses barriers to distance learning. In low- and middle-income countries, a total of 3.7 billion people do not have access to the Internet. When COVID-19 forces schools to close and children cannot continue their education in other ways, they are missing out on crucial years of learning, increasing the likelihood of prolonged poverty.

Disruptions to health care systems

Due to the pandemic’s disruptions and impacts on already fragile health systems, in developing countries, “more than twice as many women and children lost their lives for every COVID-19-related death.” Not only are healthcare workers suffering from the lack of PPE and medical supplies, but low vaccination rates are interrupting the ability of nurses and doctors to adequately serve vulnerable communities without fear of life-threatening infection.

Given these far-reaching consequences, the world must accelerate its efforts to protect lives and end the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, the United States must become a global leader and provide additional funding for the COVID-19 response.

Next steps

Improving vaccine distribution is key to slowing the negative effects of COVID-19 on global poverty and ultimately ending the COVID-19 pandemic. The $17 billion in additional funding for vaccine distribution plays a crucial role in saving lives as Congress negotiates the FY22 omnibus.

If the Senate approves the current House funding proposal, Congress will vote to pass the FY22 budget in March 2022. If Congress does not pass the budget, a continuing resolution to authorize interim funding must be put in place. implemented or the United States will face a government shutdown. . Voters who feel passionate about expanding the United States’ global response to COVID-19 to mitigate the negative consequences of the pandemic should urge their leaders to support $17 billion in funding for COVID-19 efforts. 19. Specifically, lawyers can call their representatives and mention the following:

“I am a supporter of the Borgen project and would like [insert elected official name]spend $17 billion in additional funding for fiscal year 2022 to scale up global vaccine delivery.

– Aimee Eicher and staff reports
Photo: Flickr

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