WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden called on world leaders Thursday to renew their commitments to fight COVID-19, warning that the United States itself is nearing the “tragic milestone” of 1 million deaths from the coronavirus. . He ordered the flags to be flown at half-staff and stated that the world should not be satisfied with the progress so far against the pandemic.
“This pandemic is not over,” Biden declared at the second global summit on COVID-10. “Today we have a tragic milestone here in America: 1 million deaths from COVID, 1 million empty chairs around the family table.”
The virus has caused more than 999,000 deaths in the United States and at least 6.2 million worldwide since it emerged in late 2019, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Biden ordered the flags to be raised at half-staff until sunset Monday in honor of those killed by the virus.
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.
Biden kicked off the virtual summit with a pre-recorded speech in which he said the fight against COVID-19 “must remain an international priority.” The hosts of the summit are the United States, Germany, Indonesia, Senegal and Belize.
“This summit is an opportunity to renew our efforts and keep our foot on the gas to bring this pandemic under control and prevent future health crises,” Biden said.