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US pushes world leaders to embrace 70% global COVID-19 vaccination target

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

WASHINGTON — The United States is pushing global leaders to endorse what it calls ambitious targets for ending the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, including ensuring 70% of the world’s population is vaccinated against the virus by the 2022, according to a draft US document viewed by Reuters on Tuesday.

The three-page outline is addressed to countries, international organizations, and private sector groups invited to a virtual COVID-19 summit planned by the United States on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly beginning this week.

The document also asks countries with “relevant capabilities” to donate a billion additional vaccine doses and expedite delivery of 2 billion doses already committed.

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed the 70% vaccination target, but gave no further details about the summit or the document. The New York Times, which first reported the new targets, said summit invitations to world leaders were sent last week.

The US document calls for richer countries to ensure at least $3 billion is made available in 2021 and $7 billion in 2022 for vaccine readiness and to combat vaccine hesitancy.

Other key targets include ensuring at least one in 1,000 people are tested weekly before the end of 2021, and building surge capacity to ensure that all healthcare workers have access to personal protective equipment such as masks in 2021.

The draft also called on richer countries to provide $2 billion to bolster the supply of bulk liquid oxygen, donate at least 1 billion test kits by 2022 for low- and lower-middle income countries, and donate $3 billion in COVID-19 therapeutic medicines through 2022.

It called on the private sector to fund a $2 billion global strategy to boost the supply of oxygen systems by the end of next year, and to make testing kits available in poorer countries for no more than $1 a kit.

Last month, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other international groups urged world leaders to accelerate vaccinations, warning that fewer than 2% of adults in most low-income countries were vaccinated, compared with almost 50% in high-income countries. They also noted that fewer than 10% of pledged doses had actually been shipped. — Reuters

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