According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States passed an inconceivable point in the Covid-19 pandemic this week—one million deaths. The news comes a little more than two years after the first death from the virus was recorded in the country, and experts are warning of an impending surge that could infect 100 million people. The influx of cases is likely to peak in the fall and winter, resulting from the newer, faster-spreading omicron variant already circulating domestically.
In response to these concerns, Congress is trying to pass another round of aid since some key federal initiatives have used all available funds, meaning they’re not ready for a rapid rise in cases. The new package would allocate $10 billion to increase the availability of tests, therapeutics, and vaccines nationwide. Unfortunately, partisan divides are stalling the bill in the Senate. Republicans are refusing to move forward unless Democrats first vote on amendments, particularly a request to retain restrictions on migrants crossing the border from Mexico.
The Biden administration originally wanted $22.5 billion to help restock the dwindling funds, but Republicans argued further spending wasn’t necessary since Congress had already approved $6 trillion in pandemic response. Many Republicans feel that the virus has become endemic and, therefore, manageable.
Besides bolstering the readiness of aid here at home, President Biden seeks to increase America’s role in the global Covid-19 fight. He has pledged to share vaccine patents and urges world leaders to redouble their efforts. In the second virtual Covid-19 Summit, Mr. Biden stated, “We have to start working to prevent the next variant and the next pandemic now. That’s going to require all of us to do more.”
The Summit aims to bring together heads of state and organizations to fast-track efforts to get people vaccinated and increase access to tests and treatments. In addition, the Summit focused on financing and building health security against future pandemics and other health crises by securing more than $3 billion from countries and philanthropies for Covid-19 relief efforts.
Over the summer, a global health fund for Covid-19 and future health crises will be established at the World Bank. Currently, $450 million in seed funding has already been secured. During the Summit meeting, President Biden thanked leaders from Indonesia and Italy for helping to make the fund possible. He also encouraged other leaders to donate to the fund.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, almost one billion people in lower-income countries remain unvaccinated. President Biden plans to expand access to rapid testing and antiviral treatments for people in “harder to reach areas.” So far, the U.S. has provided $19 billion to fund vaccines and treatment and has delivered more than 500 million doses to 115 countries. Last year, the president announced a plan to commit 1.1 billion doses to other countries.