On April 26th, Vice President Kamala Harris urged global leaders to begin preparing for the next pandemic in a virtual speech at the United Nations.
This virtual address came as the United States continues to make progress on vaccinating the public while much of the world struggles to acquire vaccines. The closed meeting was co-hosted by U.N. permanent representatives of Argentina, Japan, Norway, and South Africa.
Vice President Harris, in her second virtual speech to the global body since her inauguration, outlined how the Biden administration believes other countries should direct their attention. Vice President Harris stated, “At the same time that the world works to get through this pandemic, we also know that we must prepare for the next.” Those initiatives include increasing the capacity for personal protective equipment, vaccines, and test kit manufacturing. Additionally, this would involve improving access to health care and investing in science, health workers, and the well-being of women.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres claimed that the world would have been better equipped “to weather the COVID-19 crisis” if greater progress had been made in reaching U.N. development goals such as eliminating extreme poverty. The U.N. deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, suggested that to prevent new emergencies “the world needs to work together, make peace with nature, and invest in risk surveillance and social safety nets.” The U.S. Mission to the United Nations said that Vice President Harris and the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield “highlighted the need to take proactive action now to create a lasting global health security architecture that will strengthen health systems and make the world more resilient in the face of future pandemics.”
Furthermore, The U.S. Mission said that this meeting was “an important first step” toward pandemic preparedness. Vice President Harris and U.S. ambassador Thomas-Greenfield expressed hope that the dialogue will continue, including at the upcoming Rome Global Health Summit and the World Health Assembly. As the Biden administration approaches its first 100 days in office, President Joe Biden addressed Congress on April 28th where he highlighted the progress his administration has made in responding to the worst public health crisis in the U.S. in more than a century. Vice President Harris expressed that although the world learned a lot over the past year responding to the COVID-19 crisis, this is not a time to rest easy. She explained that “We have been reminded that the status quo is not nearly good enough and that innovation is indeed the path forward.”
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ARTICLE: GABRIELLA ANTOS
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: VOICE OF AMERICA