US vice president Kamala Harris has told United Nations members that now is the time for global leaders to begin putting serious work into how they will respond to the next global pandemic.
The virtual address, Ms Harris’s second to a UN body since her inauguration, comes as the US makes progress on vaccinating the public but much of the world struggles to acquire vaccines.
“At the same time that the world works to get through this pandemic, we also know that we must prepare for the next,” she said.
The speech was co-hosted by UN permanent representatives of Argentina, Japan, Norway and South Africa.
The Biden administration will mark its first 100 days in office this week. President Joe Biden is scheduled to address Congress on Wednesday and is certain to highlight the progress his administration has made in responding to the worst public health crisis in the US in more than a century.
Ms Harris’s remarks broadly outline how the administration thinks the US and other nations should consider focusing their attention.
The steps include improving accessibility to health systems, investing in science, health workers and the well-being of women, and capacity for personal protective equipment and vaccine and test manufacturing.
Ms Harris said much has been learned over the last year about pandemic preparedness and response but that it would be unwise to rest easy.
“We have been reminded that the status quo is not nearly good enough, and that innovation is indeed the path forward,” she said.
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