Biden: Vaccination efforts will be ‘constant project for a long time’
President Biden on Sunday acknowledged it may take beyond 2022 to stamp out the coronavirus pandemic globally, saying global vaccination efforts are going to remain a long-term project for Group of Seven (G-7) allies.
G-7 leaders pledged in a joint communique to provide 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to other nations in need over the next year. Biden on Friday said the U.S. would donate 500 million Pfizer doses as part of that effort. Still, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said roughly 11 billion doses may be needed to end the pandemic.
“It may take slightly longer worldwide,” Biden said when asked at a press conference if it’s realistic to end the pandemic by 2022 given the vaccination gap. “But the United States is going to continue, I think there’s a possibility over 2022 going into 2023 that we would be in a position to provide another billion.
“But that’s not done yet,” Biden added. “I’ve been very careful as I’ve dealt with this pandemic to tell you what I know and say what I thought could be done. And when I’ve announced that I’ve gone and done it. What I don’t want to do is be getting too far ahead in suggesting we can do things… that I don’t have done yet.
“There was a clear consensus among all our colleagues at the G-7 that this wasn’t the end. We were going to stay at it until we were able to provide for the needs of the whole world,” Biden continued. “It’s not just the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, but it is also the correct thing to do in terms of our own health, our own security. You can’t build a wall high enough to keep out new strains. You can’t do that. And so I think this is going to be a constant project for a long time.”
Biden said the challenge is not just producing enough vaccines for the world, but sorting out the logistics so they can be successfully distributed and administered. Part of the effort will focus on ensuring other countries have the means to manufacture the vaccines themselves moving forward, Biden said.
The pandemic hovered over the G-7 summit, which was canceled last year as the virus spread around the world. This weekend marked the first time the group of world leaders had gathered in person in well over a year.
G-7 leaders attended a working session on Saturday focused on the pandemic and how to prevent future outbreaks.
The joint communique outlined commitments from G-7 nations to prevent future pandemics and improve the global response to outbreaks. The leaders also called for a “timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based [World Health Organization]-convened Phase 2 COVID-19 Origins study including, as recommended by the experts’ report, in China.”