Blinken: US to administer J&J vaccine in conflict zones

Secretary of state Antony blinkAntony BlinkenOrtega of Nicaragua Prepares to Win Elections Amid International Criticism The United States Counts on Qatar to Safeguard Its Middle East Interests Blinken: Repression, Manipulation Stripped Nicaragua’s Elections of Any ‘Real Meaning’ MORE Wednesday announced an effort to distribute Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines to populations living in conflict zones.

Blinken said the United States has helped negotiate an agreement between Johnson & Johnson and COVAX, the global initiative to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, to deliver the one-shot J&J vaccine to people living in conflict zones and other settings. humanitarian.

“We are eager for people in these difficult circumstances to obtain protection against COVID-19 as soon as possible. We know the urgency of this fight, ”said the secretary during a virtual meeting of foreign ministers to address the pandemic.

The announcement is an effort to vaccinate some of the most vulnerable people, as Western and high-income countries come under fire for failing to address equitable vaccine distribution.

Blinken called the delay in global vaccine distribution the “current emergency” and noted that around 10 percent of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated, compared to North America and Europe, where more than half of the population is fully vaccinated.

“We have to close that gap,” said the secretary.

A senior administration official said that previously, the J&J vaccine could only be used for official vaccination programs of other governments, but that the United States “pioneered a novel legal approach” to allow distribution of the vaccine through COVAX. and in conflict zones.

The official added that J & J’s vaccine donations to COVAX are for “flexible use” for conflict zones and other humanitarian settings, or where the need is greatest. In addition, the US made 300,000 J&J vaccines available to front-line healthcare workers in conflict zones, United Nations peacekeeping missions, and other emergency settings, such as crises caused by natural disasters.

The secretary’s announcement at the ministerial also served as an effort to unite other nations to achieve the global goals of increasing vaccination rates around the world.

Blinken said the United States supported the World Health Organization (WHO) goal of achieving vaccination rates of 70 percent of the world’s population by September 2022.

At the current rate of global vaccine distribution, low-income countries are not expected to reach that goal for more than a decade, according to the ONE campaign, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

To date, half the world has not received a single injection and only 4.2 percent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, the ONE campaign said in a statement.

Blinken, during the ministerial, called on world leaders to boost vaccine production, increase donations and fulfill commitments to COVAX to achieve this goal.

Other announcements from the ministerial include the launch of a comprehensive, global COVID-19. tracker administered by WHO, to capture vaccination rates, hospital intensive care unit admissions, promised vaccine doses, and delivered doses.

Blinken said the tracker will help provide transparency and accountability to countries in meeting their commitments to end the pandemic.

The secretary also announced a new public-private partnership to help manage vaccines more effectively, called Global COVID Corp. Private companies will work for free to provide best practices in supply chain management and site administration. of vaccines.

“Let us continue to work together as we move forward, to save lives now and strengthen global health security for the future,” Blinken said.

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