LIVINGSTON, New Jersey — The COVID-19 pandemic hit America undeniably hard. Yet while the U.S. is on the path toward recovery, many nations still struggle with the effects of the pandemic. Each country reports different infection and mortality rates due to varying levels of preparedness, resources and supplies. To date, the World Health Organization has identified fewer than 15 countries with zero cumulative cases. Although nearly every country has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, some countries have been hit harder than most. Fortunately, America has taken decisive action to tackle COVID-19 on a global scale, particularly by mitigating vaccine inequity.
Unequal COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Ever since the first COVID-19 vaccines received approval in late 2020, numerous countries have launched vaccination programs for their populations. Several have been incredibly successful. As of July 21, 2021, the United Arab Emirates has the highest share of its population fully vaccinated, followed closely by Chile, Israel and others. The United States is among the few countries with the highest vaccination rates per 100 people. 56.3% of Americans have received one dose of a vaccine, per CDC updates in late July.
Although hundreds of millions of vaccines have been distributed globally, these vaccines have not been dispersed equally between countries. Richer countries have requested and received more vaccines than their populations need, leaving their poorer counterparts with insufficient amounts to achieve herd immunity. Certain countries are accused of “hoarding” the vaccine. ONE, a global poverty-focused movement, reports the world’s richest countries have bought 1.3 billion more doses than they need to fully vaccinate their populations. These doses alone, ONE notes, could “vaccinate the entire adult population of Africa.”
In America, real and incoming vaccine supply significantly outweighs demand. By the end of July, Pfizer and Moderna will have given an estimated 600 million doses to America, which already accounts for more than the entire U.S. adult population. In order to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on a global scale, the Biden administration announced that it will be sharing 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries. America will ship a portion of its surplus overseas to countries struggling with a lack of doses after the completion of an FDA review.
International Aid to India
India has called for international support as COVID-19 cases surge in the nation. July 2021 figures show that India, with a population of 1.37 billion, has a reported 31 million cases with 419,021 deaths. Furthermore, the numbers are likely higher due to imperfect access to testing. In recent months, the Biden administration has sent out emergency assistance to India in the form of ventilators, raw materials for vaccines, medicine and PPE to help protect the population from COVID-19.
Administration spokespeople also shared a plan to send over a team of CDC and USAID advisers to India when cases surged in late April. The U.S. response came shortly after Germany, France and the United Kingdom publicly stated that they would help the country. Biden pointed to the support and aid India provided to America as he reiterated his administration’s support for the nation. In a diplomatic and humanitarian gesture, Biden tweeted that America is “determined to help India in its time of need.”
The United States Commits Itself
USAID has helped more than 120 countries fight COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Its efforts include providing emergency relief, prioritizing vaccine preparation, supporting frontline workers, strengthening existing health systems and more. In February, America pledged $2 billion to Gavi, the international “Vaccine Alliance,” to support the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 90 countries in need. The American Rescue plan focused on efforts at home and abroad. The plan allows for more than $10 billion in funding to USAID and the State Department. The plan backs endeavors focused on fighting the pandemic along with its economic, financial and social repercussions globally. The money will also go toward fighting other global infections and diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
Despite inequities plaguing the battle against COVID-19, with vaccine hoarding as a relevant example, the United States has committed itself to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale. Hopefully, this international aid and renewed American effort will better enable all nations to safely recover from the pandemic.
– Lauren Peacock