Biden will likely arrive empty-handed at his own Covid-19 world summit

The Biden administration asked Congress in March to authorize $22.5 billion in additional Covid-19 aid, including $5 billion for the global pandemic, but the package has been repeatedly hijacked. The Senate struck a bipartisan deal in April to approve $10 billion in aid, but it cut global Covid-19 funding entirely.

That put the president in a tricky position: He’ll likely show up to his own summit empty-handed.

Biden acknowledged on Monday that “much needed funding” for Covid-19 relief was not available. In a statement released by the White House, the president said congressional leaders had advised him that including the funding under a new Ukraine aid package risked delaying the effort to war, so he agreed to let them proceed as separate bills.

“However, let me be clear: as vital as it is to help Ukraine fight Russian aggression, it is equally vital to help Americans fight Covid. Without timely Covid funding , more Americans will die unnecessarily,” he wrote, adding that not approving the funding also risked stalling the global response to the pandemic.

As Biden prepares to address the world, cases are rising in the United States and the country’s death toll is approaching a grim milestone: 1 million.

The summit, a virtual gathering co-hosted by Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal, aims to reinvigorate vaccination efforts and end what the White House has called the “acute phase” of the pandemic. It comes at a critical time, as vaccination efforts around the world languish and testing and tracing of cases has fallen off a cliff.
A group of former government leaders are calling on the United States to commit $5 billion to the global pandemic response and are urging Biden to take a stronger role at the summit. Experts have repeatedly warned that the whole world needs access to vaccines to contain the virus and prevent more deadly strains from surfacing. “I want America to recognize that the disease is not over anywhere until it is over everywhere,” the former British prime minister said. Gordon Brown told the New York Times, which reported the story. “We must not sleepwalk in the next variation.”
Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday that the increase in cases in more than 50 countries highlighted the volatility of the pandemic, which is now fueled by subvariants. Although high population immunity to vaccination and previous infections keeps hospitalization and death rates low, the same is not true for places with low vaccination coverage. The worst-case scenario is that a variant escapes current immunity, spreads more easily, or causes greater mortality, Tedros said. In South Africa, where cases are rising due to the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, scientists have called for a new vaccination to mitigate another surge.

The WHO has called on world leaders to commit to vaccinating 70% of the world’s population within a year – a goal Biden echoed at the first Covid-19 summit last September. “Yes, it is difficult. Yes, some countries will not achieve this by mid-2022. But if we deprioritize based on these factors, we risk causing waves of deaths that can knock out health systems. health and cause further decline in all other health problems,” Tedros said.

At least 218 countries and territories have administered more than 11 billion doses of a Covid-19 vaccine since the first case of Covid was reported in China in late 2019. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in February that the world was not on pace to meet the 70% target.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.

Q: Why does the United States need more Covid-19 funding?

A: The Biden administration has issued a new warning that the United States could potentially see 100 million Covid-19 infections this fall and winter, as officials publicly stress the need for additional congressional funding to prepare. the nation.

The projection – derived from a range of outside models – is based on an underlying assumption that no additional resources or additional mitigating actions are taken, including new Covid-19 funding from Congress, and no new dramatic variant appears, administration officials said.

The Biden administration has been sounding the alarm for weeks that additional funding is needed to continue the federal response to Covid-19, even as it seeks a return to “normal” with the lifting of many pandemic-era restrictions. The 100 million estimate was first reported by the Washington Post.

READINGS OF THE WEEK

Nearly one million Americans have been killed by Covid-19. Here are some of the things they left behind

An engraved money clip. A pulse oximeter. A child’s drawing.

These articles are personal reminders of the terrible toll of the pandemic. Some bring comfort; others cause heartache.

As the United States nears one million Covid-19 deaths, Christina Zdanowicz and Austin Steele have asked CNN readers to remember their loved ones through the items they left behind. From 10-year-old Teresa Sperry’s doodles to math teacher John A. Richardson’s aftershave, here are some of the memories their loved ones cling to — tough reminders of those they’ve lost.

WHO chief censored in China as zero-Covid policy intensifies

Tedros was censured after questioning China’s zero Covid policy during a press briefing on Tuesday. A day after the briefing, posts to the official UN press account on Chinese social platform Weibo went invisible, with hashtags containing the WHO chief’s name also being censored, report Nectar Gan and the CNN’s Beijing bureau.
The crackdown came a week after China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, issued the strongest warning yet against challenging the country’s hardline policy – which has left millions confined to their homes. with no end in sight. In a meeting chaired by Xi, the ruling Communist Party’s Supreme Politburo Standing Committee pledged to “unrelentingly adhere to the general policy of ‘zero-Covid dynamic’ and resolutely fight against all words and deeds who misrepresent, doubt or deny our nation’s epidemic prevention strategies.”
The starkest example of this is the country’s largest city, Shanghai, where authorities have continued to step up lockdown measures despite falling cases.
Groups representing Western businesses in China are urging Beijing to ease its approach to Covid, saying harsh lockdowns are hurting revenue and investment, and forcing a growing number of companies to consider moving operations out of the world’s second-largest economy, writes Laura He.

CDC investigates Covid-19 outbreak aboard Carnival cruise ship

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a recent outbreak of Covid-19 on a Carnival cruise ship that docked in Seattle after a two-week voyage. The Carnival Spirit departed Miami on April 17 and arrived in Seattle on May 3, according to a statement from the cruise line, and holds 2,124 guests and 930 crew.

The CDC says it is not authorized to share the number of passengers and crew quarantined or infected, but the ship is labeled in orange status, indicating that 0.3% or more have tested positive, according to CDC guidelines.

When the pandemic began in the spring of 2020, cruise ships became epicenters of coronavirus and were turned away from ports as Covid cases climbed on board and escalated on land.

“Our health and safety protocols exceed CDC guidelines and have been followed closely, including vaccination requirements and pre-cruise testing of all guests. Our crew are also vaccinated and wear masks,” said Carnival said in a statement to CNN.

SUPERIOR COUNCIL

Take extra care when traveling

As summer vacation approaches, more of us are looking to go to exotic destinations. But before you book your flights, check what the infection rate looks like in your intended vacation spot and how your own country ranks it currently.

On Monday, the CDC added the British Virgin Islands – a relaxed Caribbean playground – to its “high” category for Covid-19 risk.

The Level 3 “high” risk category is now the first rung in terms of risk level in the United States. Level 2 is considered “moderate” risk and level 1 is “low” risk. Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now reserved only for special circumstances, such as an extremely high number of cases, the emergence of a new variant of concern or the collapse of healthcare infrastructures. health. Under the new system, no destinations have been placed at Tier 4 so far. Learn more here.