WASHINGTON — On March 1, 140 global poverty and health advocates from The ONE Campaign, the international organization co-founded by activist and U2 lead singer Bono, will meet virtually with Congressional lawmakers to urge them to support at least $17 billion to fight COVID-19 globally. The activists will also seek Congressional support for a $2 billion annual commitment from the US to fight global HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
These activists were selected from around the US to participate in The ONE Campaign’s Virtual Advocacy Day, which includes two days of briefings and trainings leading up to their day of Congressional meetings.
“In the last year, we’ve seen–twice–the danger of allowing the virus to mutate freely around the world due to uncontrolled spread and lack of vaccinations,” said Tom Hart, President of The ONE Campaign. “It’s in our domestic and global interest to end this pandemic everywhere. This requires a coordinated global response that ensures that low income countries have access not just to vaccine doses but to the resources needed to get those doses into arms, as well as tests and treatments that can save lives now.
“The US has been ahead of other governments in the race against COVID but we remain a distant second to the virus itself. Congress must invest $17 billion in supplemental COVID-19 funding. We have every tool to end the pandemic but time.
“The impact of this pandemic has been felt on our ability to address other diseases as well. While COVID has held a grip on the world for the past two years, our progress fighting preventable diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria has stalled. World leaders have an opportunity to get us back on track at the Global Fund replenishment this fall. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s in our best interest: Every dollar we invest to fight these three diseases returns $31 in health and economic gains. As host, the US should set a bold example by pledging $2 billion per year so the Global Fund can continue its lifesaving work.”
We are more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and unless world leaders urgently provide the funds and resources needed to vaccinate the world there could be two or more years to come. Glaring inequities in the global response thus far have stunted progress and allowed COVID-19 to persist, resulting in the Beta, Delta, Gamma, Omicron and, now, the more contagious Omicron BA.2 variant.
More than 10 billion doses have been administered worldwide, but only 1.1% of those doses have been administered in low-income countries, leading to drastically low vaccination rates. The world missed its December 2021 goal to vaccinate 40 percent of the world.
World leaders have failed to provide adequate funding to ensure low-income countries have the resources to get vaccine doses safely and quickly into arms. The Biden Administration has proposed $5 billion in supplemental COVID-19 funding. This will not get the job done. The US must invest $17 billion to fund resources, tests and therapeutics to strengthen vaccination efforts and save lives now.
Recent polling from the ONE Campaign found overwhelming support among US voters for contributing to a global strategy to end COVID-19. 77% of voters support the US donating vaccines to low-income countries, and 76% of voters agree that, until we do so, we will continue to see more COVID-19 variants, each one potentially more contagious or deadly than the last.