WASHINGTON — Tomorrow, over 175 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 $20 billion to fight COVID-19 globally.
“The longer this pandemic persists, the more likely it is that we’ll see more COVID-19 variants arise, extending the life of the pandemic,” said Tom Hart, North America executive director at The ONE Campaign. “It’s in our domestic and global interest to extinguish this pandemic everywhere, fast, which will require a more coordinated global response and ensuring the world’s poorest countries have access to vaccines. That’s why Congress must invest at least $20 billion in fighting COVID-19 globally and President Biden’s proposed $11 billion is a key step towards that goal.”
“If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our collective fates are bound as one. As long as the pandemic remains unchecked anywhere, COVID-19 remains a threat everywhere,” said Pastor Matt Staniz at Saint Luke Lutheran Church in Devon, Pennsylvania. “The Gospel of Luke reminds us to ‘give, and it will be given to you.’ By supporting global efforts to distribute vaccines and by investing at least $20 billion in fighting COVID-19 globally, we can give the gift of life to others in need and help bring about a faster end to this global pandemic for all.”
“As a first responder, I’ve seen how our nation’s health security and our global health security are inextricably linked,”said Sarah DeFlon, a registered nurse in Ann Arbor, MI. “Promoting global access to COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring we have a robust global response to this global pandemic isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do to end this crisis as quickly as possible here in the United States and around the world. Until all of us are safe, none of us are safe.”
The meetings are part of ONE’s 14th annual Power Summit, which is moving online for the first time ever due to COVID-19. The three-day virtual summit brings together activists, faith leaders and college students for a cutting-edge training on advocating for the fight against global poverty and preventable disease. In addition to meeting virtually with their Members of Congress, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from some of the political and policy figures who have led the fight against extreme poverty and disease.
The fact that new COVID-19 variants, like the ones found in the United Kingdom and South Africa, have developed is both concerning and unsurprising. There is a real risk that the longer the pandemic goes on, the more the virus will adapt and mutate — coming back across borders and halting all the progress we have made.
A domestic-only strategy will not work. We need a global response now. The world has delayed action towards a collective, global response. This lack of action has only extended the lifespan of this pandemic and increased the death toll and economic harm. Research shows if a vaccine is distributed to every country on the globe proportionally to its population rather than prioritizing high-income countries, the world could avoid 61% of COVID-19 related deaths. And a recent study found the global economy stands to lose as much as $9.2 trillion if governments fail to ensure developing economy access to COVID-19 vaccine.
The development of effective vaccines has offered a light at the end of the tunnel, but these new variants have shown us that none of us are safe until all of us are safe. While the US is making strides in vaccinating its population, there are 130 countries across the world that have not seen a single vial of vaccine, and without funding, may not for years to come.
As Congress considers its next COVID-19 relief bill, they must work towards $20 billion in fighting COVID-19 globally, including funding for proven health programs such as the Global Fund and CEPI, and thus support the $11 billion in President Biden’s proposal as a step to achieve this.