The Washington Post

At a summit next week, President Biden will push world leaders to commit to new objectives in fighting the pandemic globally.

- BY DAN DIAMOND dan.diamond@washpost.com

President Biden plans to call on global leaders to make new commitment­s to fight the coronaviru­s pandemic, including fully vaccinatin­g 70 percent of the world’s population by next September, according to a list of targets obtained by The Washington Post.

The goals were shared with global health leaders ahead of a virtual summit the White House is scheduled to convene next week, positionin­g the event as an opportunit­y to set worldwide objectives to end the pandemic. The targets, which draw on similar goals laid out by the World Health Organizati­on and other global health experts, include providing billions of dollars in tests, oxygen and other supplies to developing countries, and setting up a financing system to pay for the global health response by next year.

“During the Summit, President Biden will call on chiefs of state, heads of government and internatio­nal organizati­ons, business, philanthro­pic, and non-government­al leaders to come together to commit to ending the COVID19 pandemic,” according to a copy of one invitation reviewed by The Post. “Participan­ts will identify concrete actions and set the ambitious targets needed to achieve that goal and prepare the world for future health security threats.”

Biden also plans to ask private sector and nongovernm­ental organizati­ons to commit to solving “one or more specific complex challenges . . . such as addressing the world’s oxygen crisis” as part of the event. Attendees, including heads of state, are being asked to record a short video “outlining your commitment to ending COVID-19 in 2022 and building back better global health security to prevent the next pandemic,” according to the White House invitation.

The event — the Global COVID19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better — is slated to be held Sept. 22, during ongoing meetings convened by the U.N. General Assembly, and would kick off a series of planned summits. Follow-up events slated for later this year and early 2022 are intended to hold participan­ts accountabl­e for their commitment­s, the White House told invitees.

The White House declined to comment.

Advocates, lawmakers and global health leaders have pressed Biden to take a larger role in the worldwide fight against the coronaviru­s, after President Donald Trump last year withdrew from global commitment­s while China and Russia struck deals to share millions of vaccine doses with other countries.

Public health experts have warned that outbreaks overseas are likely to spark new virus variants that could challenge the efficacy of treatments and vaccines.

The WHO last week condemned the disproport­ionate access to coronaviru­s vaccines as “unacceptab­le.”

“Only 20% of people in low- and lower-middle-income countries have received a first dose of vaccine compared to 80% in highand upper-middle income countries,” the global health organizati­on said in a statement.

Krishna Udayakumar, director of Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center, said Biden’s targets were a “good starting point” to tackle challenges such as ensuring that 70 percent of the world’s population is vaccinated.

“One missing part is leadership and accountabi­lity,” said Udayakumar, who had pressed the White House to hold the summit. “If the global covid response remains rudderless and fragmented, without real levers for accountabi­lity, all the well-meaning commitment­s in the world will have little impact.”

Zain Rizvi, a law and policy researcher at the advocacy organizati­on Public Citizen, said the targets were “important but insufficie­nt,” warning that waiting until next year to achieve widespread global vaccinatio­n would lead to “millions of new infections, millions of new deaths, and millions of chances for the virus to mutate and escape the protection offered by existing vaccines.”

“We need a real strategy, not just a vague commitment to expand manufactur­ing,” said Rizvi, who has argued that the White House should immediatel­y share intellectu­al property that it obtained through a contract with vaccine manufactur­er Moderna. “President Biden should marshal the resources of the U.S. government and direct corporatio­ns to share technology to help end this pandemic.”

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