President Joe Biden opened a Covid-19 summit of world leaders Wednesday with a promise to donate a "historic" extra 500 million vaccines to countries struggling to push back against the pandemic.
"This is an all-hands-on-deck crisis," Biden said. "America will become the arsenal for vaccines as we were the arsenal for democracy in World War II."
The pledge from Biden at the summit, held virtually from the White House, brings the total US commitment of donated vaccines to 1.1 billion -- more than the rest of the world combined.'
"The US has already shipped 160 million of these doses to 100 countries," the White House said in a statement. "For every one shot we've put in an American arm to date, we are now donating three shots globally."
The new tranche of half a billion vaccines will be from Pfizer and aimed at poorer countries.
Biden was also due to challenge world leaders to vaccinate 70 percent of every country by September 2022, the White House said.
In his opening remarks, he stressed that the surge of vaccines must only be donated, with no "political" strings attached -- a veiled dig at China in particular.
The United States and other wealthy countries have been criticized by the World Health Organization for their plans to roll out booster shots for elderly and high-risk populations, while much of the world faces a severe shortage in doses.
But a senior US administration official told reporters that Washington is "proving that you can take care of your own, while helping others as well."
On Tuesday, in his first speech to the UN as president, Biden told delegates that the United States had put more than $15 billion towards the global Covid response and shipped more than 160 million doses to other countries.
- 70 percent target -
Despite the development of safe and highly effective vaccines in record-breaking time, huge disparities exist between countries with ample supply and others that have barely begun their immunization campaign.
President Joe Biden is set to announce the United States plans to donate an additional 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccines to the rest of the world Ethan Miller GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
Just 3.6 percent of Africa's eligible population has been inoculated -- compared with an average of more than 60 percent in Western Europe.
The summit -- technically held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly -- saw Biden and US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield hosting a wide variety of health and foreign leaders.
They included UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and the heads of Britain, Canada, the European Union, Indonesia, and South Africa.
Washington will seek to rally the world around three goals, the administration official said.
These are: increasing vaccine supply; saving lives now by resolving the oxygen crisis and access to testing, medicine and therapeutics; and lastly improving future preparedness.
On vaccines, Biden will set an "ambitious target, which will require all countries to step up, so that every country, including low income and low middle income countries can achieve 70 percent vaccination before" next year's UN General Assembly, the official said.
While the latest global coronavirus wave peaked in late August, the virus continues to spread rapidly, particularly in the United States, which is officially the worst-hit country.
Some 4.7 million have died since the outbreak began in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally from official sources.
© 2021 AFP
Alabama secretary of state destroys Mike Lindell's fraud claims: 'We didn't have any vote changes -- zero'
Alabama's secretary of state was unpersuaded by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
The right-wing pillow magnate visited secretary of state John Merrill and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey last week during his nationwide tour to prove the election was stolen through computer manipulation, which he claims took place there despite the former president's easy win in the state, reported AL.com.
"This was the one time we're going to have to do a little bit of a deeper dive here," Lindell claimed in a video posted online Sunday. "On the surface you can't see where it happened. What I guarantee they've had to do in Alabama is the bad people…went deeper into the well. Very deep into the well of how they did the flips."
Lindell claims 100,000 votes were changed across "every single county" in Alabama, which Trump won by nearly 600,000 votes, but Merrill dismissed those assertions as ridiculous.
"All our (voting) machines are custom-built," Merrill said. "There's no modem component. You can't influence them through a cell phone or a landline. There's no way they can be probed or numbers manipulated."
"We didn't have any vote changes -- zero," he added. "It's not possible to have any vote changed."
In the recording, which was obtained and provided by American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal political action committee that conducts opposition research on Republicans, Craig is asked if he would stop Democrats “from undoing the law that makes abortion illegal in Michigan."
“I will do whatever I can — I'm pro-life," Craig responded.
Asked again if he supports blocking Democrats from “repealing that law," Craig said, “Yes."
Asked about the recording, Craig's campaign didn't directly respond to his remarks about the abortion ban.
“James Craig is unapologetically pro-life and opposes liberal efforts for abortion on demand, late term abortions, and partial birth abortions," his campaign said in a written statement.
Abortion-rights advocates say Craig's support for a complete ban on abortion is unpopular and would turn back the clock on women's rights.
“The right to abortion is about freedom, bodily autonomy, and people who become pregnant determining their own futures," Sam Inglot, deputy director of the progressive group Progress Michigan, tells Metro Times. “The fact that James Craig is willing to take that freedom away is incredibly regressive and dangerous. The idea of reverting to a nearly 100-year-old law that strips people of these rights is not the direction we want to go in the state."
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Michigan's law ban goes back into effect, women could be imprisoned for terminating their pregnancy, abortion-rights advocates point out.
“James Craig just said in no uncertain terms that he would do everything in his power to ensure that abortion is criminalized as manslaughter and make felons out of healthcare providers," said Rodericka Applewhaite, spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party. “Thanks to a 1931 Michigan law that Craig is committed to keeping on the books, that's exactly the hostile environment women and families would immediately face should Roe v. Wade get overturned. Already, the Supreme Court is set to hear a direct challenge to this crucial case at the end of the year. For the Detroit Dodger to choose this as the first clear answer of his candidacy proves that he's been refusing to answer questions in the hopes that it would hide his extremist views from Michiganders."
Craig has previously dodged questions about his position on abortion.
“Though he has desperately tried to hide his extreme positions, James Craig finally confirmed he stands by an extreme anti-abortion law that would virtually eliminate the freedom to decide and criminalize doctors for doing their jobs," DNC spokesperson Adonna Biel said. “Michigan's 1931 abortion ban has no place in the 21st century, and yet Craig is willing to stand by an arcane law in opposition to decades of precedent, and jeopardize the health of countless people."
Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: email@example.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.
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