US President Joe Biden is expected to call for a global Covid-19 summit as part of a broad plan he will unveil in a speech on Thursday to put his administration’s floundering response to the epidemic to rest in light of rising cases and hospitalizations caused by the virulent Delta strain and vaccine hesitancy.
The summit will focus on the global Covid-19 response and vaccination distribution efforts, according to unidentified people familiar with the planning, and is expected to take place on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) meetings in the week of September 20, according to The Washington Post. That is the week in which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the United States, first for a meeting with Biden on September 23 – their first in-person meeting – and then for a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, as previously reported by this newspaper.
The United States, together with its Quad allies India, Japan, and Australia, has participated in a multilateral initiative to create 1 billion doses of vaccinations for distribution throughout the India-Pacific area. It has independently supplied millions of doses of vaccines from its stockpile to countries around the world either directly or through the WHO-led Covax program.
“We are still planning the president’s schedule around UN General Assembly High-Level week, but it is safe to assume we are actively looking at Covid-19 and public-health-centered options,” a senior administration official told The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity. “I would anticipate there will be an opportunity for the president to engage with his counterparts on this issue during the UNGA week.”
The Joe Biden administration is attempting to regain control of the pandemic response, which has stalled in recent weeks, belying the president’s main electoral pledge of doing a better job than his predecessor.
New infections and hospitalizations are on the rise, owing mostly to the extremely infectious Delta strain and persons who have refused to get vaccinated for political reasons or because of concerns about vaccine effectiveness and long-term adverse effects.