White House announces global COVID-19 summit in May

The White House on Monday announced it would co-host a global COVID-19 summit in May, in a bid to boost efforts to vaccinate the world.  

The announcement comes as efforts to fight the virus globally have hit roadblocks, including $5 billion for global COVID-19 aid being stripped out of a relief package in Congress amid a dispute over how to pay for it.  

The summit, scheduled to be held virtually on May 12, will be co-hosted by the United States; Belize, chair of the Caribbean Community; Germany, the G-7 president; Indonesia, the G-20 president; and Senegal, chair of the African Union.  

“In advance of the May 12 Summit, we are calling on world leaders, members of civil society, non-governmental organizations, philanthropists, and the private sector to make new commitments and bring solutions to vaccinate the world, save lives now, and build better health security — for everyone, everywhere,” the White House said in a statement.  

Only 16 percent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated, according to figures from Our World in Data.  

While the global supply of vaccines has increased somewhat over time, one of the main challenges now is getting the doses into people’s arms. That requires infrastructure such as freezers for proper storage and staff to administer the vaccinations.  

The stalled funding in Congress complicates the White House’s efforts to boost the global vaccine push. 

“The U.S. could show up empty-handed to its own summit unless leaders of both parties get their acts together to fund the global Covid response,” Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicines program at the progressive group Public Citizen, said in a statement.  

“$5 billion is the bare minimum; far less than what is needed,” he added. “The White House needs to fight like hell for that money and much more.”