Online Event: U.S. Foreign Assistance and the Global Covid-19 Response
The outbreak of the deadly coronavirus has caused widespread challenges throughout the world, claimed over 1.1 million lives, and continues to send shocks to societies and economies worldwide. Developing nations are being hit particularly hard during the pandemic due to a lack of adequate healthcare, sanitation, water, and economic contingency resources. Many developing countries were facing strenuous economic and political circumstances before Covid-19 that are being further exacerbated by the pandemic. In such crisis times, there is a need for traditional donor countries to rise to the occasion and rethink the purpose of their foreign aid programs. They need to strategically expand developmental assistance to not only contain political and economic degradation but also provide countries the tools to rebuild economies that are resilient to future crises.
As the health and economic crises continue to evolve and new information on treatment emerges, both donor and aid recipient countries need to rapidly adapt to such changes to sustain an effective response. One way aid can be utilized to ensure proper recovery from the pandemic caused recession is to ramp up services such as contact tracing, testing, and (once there is a vaccine) vaccine delivery. Currently, multiple governments and privately-owned and pharmaceutical companies are racing to get the first Covid-19 vaccine out as fast as scientifically possible. With a “rush order” in place, it is expected that the winning vaccine candidate will not be widely available to the public until 12-18 months after its delivery. Moreover, it has been estimated that once a vaccine does become available, it would take 8,000 Boeing 747 freighters to reach almost all population centers across the world. Given the challenges involved and in the absence of a vaccine, the wait time should be spent by the development community most importantly on what needs to be done now (masks, diagnostic and contact tracing) to minimize the impact of the pandemic and on making sure we have the logistics plans to deliver the vaccine if and when it is available.
This event is made possible thanks to the generous contribution from URC.