WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — President Joe Biden will call for a renewed international commitment to confront COVID-19 by calling a second virtual summit on the pandemic, evoking a “tragic milestone” as the United States approaches one million deaths.
“As a nation, we must not become indifferent to such pain,” Biden said in a statement Thursday. “To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant in the face of this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible.”
The virus has caused more than 995,000 deaths in the United States and at least 6.2 million worldwide, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
The president has asked Congress to provide more funding for tests, vaccines and treatments, something lawmakers have been reluctant to approve until now.
The lack of funds — Biden has requested an additional $22.5 billion that he considers crucial — is a reflection of the weakening will in the country and jeopardizes the global response to the pandemic.
Eight months after the first summit, in which he announced the ambitious pledge to donate 1.2 billion vaccines to the world, the sense of urgency for the United States and other countries to respond is fading.
The drive to distribute vaccines and treatments has diminished, while the most infectious variants are increasing and millions of people in the world are not immunized.
The White House said Biden will kick off the virtual summit in the coming hours with a pre-recorded speech saying the fight against COVID-19 “must remain an international priority.” The hosts of the summit are the United States, Germany, Indonesia, Senegal and Belize.