Biden’s Covid Summit aims to bolster global pandemic fight

PM Modi calls for streamlining of WHO vaccine approval process

US ‘vulnerable’ to Covid without new shots, says Dr. Ashish Jha

Washington DC: President Joe Biden appealed to world leaders at a Covid-19 summit Thursday to reenergize a lagging international commitment to attacking the virus as he led the U.S. in marking the “tragic milestone” of 1 million deaths in America. He ordered flags lowered to half-staff and warned against complacency around the globe.

“This pandemic isn’t over,” Biden declared at the second global pandemic summit. He spoke solemnly of the once-unthinkable U.S. toll: “1 million empty chairs around the family dinner table.”

The coronavirus has killed more than 999,000 people in the U.S. and at least 6.2 million people globally since 2019, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Other counts, including by the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, and American Nurses Association, have the toll at 1 million.

“Today, we mark a tragic milestone here in the United States, 1 million COVID deaths,” he said.

The president called on Congress to urgently provide billions of dollars more for testing, vaccines, and treatments, something lawmakers have been unwilling to deliver so far. Biden has requested an additional $22.5 billion in what he calls critically needed money — is a U.S. reflection of faltering resolve that jeopardizes the global response to the pandemic, he said.

PM Modi pitches for flexible WTO rules on TRIPS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the summit called for reforming the World Health Organization (WHO) and streamlining its approval process for vaccines and therapeutics. He favored making flexible the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rules relating to trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS).

In his address, Modi said that a coordinated global response is required to combat future health emergencies and called for building a resilient global supply chain for equitable access to vaccines and medicines. “WHO must be reformed and strengthened to build a more resilient global health security architecture,” Modi said.

PM Modi’s call for making flexible rules of the WTO, particularly the TRIPS, came over a year-and-half after India and South Africa placed a proposal at the WTO to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for producing Covid-19 vaccines to effectively deal with the pandemic. India has been pressing for the TRIPS waiver to ensure scaling up of the vaccine production for equitable and global access.

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: NYT)

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