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Senate Agreed to $10 Billion COVID Package, With No Money for Global Response

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On April 4, the Senate agreed to a $10 billion package to fund the Biden administration’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The negotiators heralded it as a major success, and the administration announced that it would allow vital COVID services to continue.

Yet, as with so much else that passes for “success” in this fractured and fractious political environment, the bill was in fact a stunning failure — in this case, representing a disaster for the basic principles of global pandemic response.

President Biden had initially requested over $22 billion in funding — for ongoing testing and vaccines, for medical research, and, crucially, for overseas aid, to help poorer countries ramp up their testing and vaccine regimens. In the original proposal, $5 billion was dedicated to the international response.

Since 2020, the pandemic has raged in poorer countries such as India, but the exact scale of its carnage has often been underplayed by those countries’ governments. India, for example, claims that it has lost about 500,000 citizens to the disease. This week, however, the World Health Organization estimated that the true number was closer to 4 million. Without accurate public health data, it becomes ever harder to tailor appropriate responses to the pandemic in those countries; and without effective interventions, the risk of new, potentially more lethal variants emerging, grows by the day.

Most Americans, and the vast majority of elderly Americans, have had at least two shots against COVID, with many having also received their boosters (and many of those who aren’t vaccinated have made a conscious choice not to be, despite the widespread availability of free vaccines). By contrast, in poorer nations, vaccination rates remain perilously low, often not by choice. By the start of 2022, only about 10 percent of Africans had both the original course of vaccines and the booster shots. In many countries, such as Mali and South Sudan, Tanzania and Cameroon, only about........

© Truthout

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