Blinken announces appointment of Gayle Smith as US coordinator for Global COVID Response

Lalit K Jha
·3-min read

Washington, Apr 6 (PTI) Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced the appointment of Gayle Smith, a former veteran diplomat, as the US coordinator for Global COVID Response, while stressing that America must lead the world in bringing the pandemic to an end.

Blinken on Monday named Smith, former head of US Agency for International Development in the Obama administration, to serve as the coordinator for Global COVID Response.

The position, he said, will involve coaxing other wealthy nations to share vaccine supplies with developing nations.

“The world has to come together to bring the COVID pandemic to an end, everywhere. And for that to happen, the United States must act and we must lead,” he said.

'There is no country on earth that can do what we can do both in terms of developing breakthrough vaccines and bringing governments, businesses, and international institutions together to organise the massive, sustained public health effort it'll take to fully end the pandemic,” Blinken said.

“We have a duty to other countries to get the virus under control here in the United States. But soon the United States will need to step up our work and rise to the occasion worldwide because again, only by stopping COVID globally will Americans be safe for the long term. Moreover, we want to rise to the occasion for the world,” he said.

Asserting that the US is moving as fast as possible, Blinken said that the Biden Administration will be guided every step by core values.

“We won't trade shots in arms for political favours. This is about saving lives. We'll treat our partner countries with respect. We won't over-promise and under-deliver,” he said.

“We'll maintain high standards for the vaccines that we help to bring to others, only distributing those proven to be safe and effective. We'll insist on an approach built on equity. COVID has already come down hard on vulnerable and marginalised people. We cannot allow our COVID response to end up making racial and gender inequality worse. We'll embrace partnership, sharing the burden and combining strengths,” he said.

“The collaboration we formed a few weeks ago with the quad countries, India, Japan, Australia, is a good example. Together we're increasing the world's manufacturing capacity so we can get more shots out the door and into people's arms as fast as possible. And by the way, one of the reasons we work through multilateral collaborations where possible is because they often share and defend these same values,” he said.

The COVAX initiative, he noted, is designed explicitly to ensure that low and middle income countries can also get vaccines, because it's only through broad and equitable vaccination that we'll end the pandemic.

The US, he said, will keep pushing for a complete and transparent investigation into the origins of this epidemic to learn what happened, so it doesn't happen again. All told, this work is a key piece of President Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda.

“We've got to make sure that we can better detect, prevent, prepare for, and respond to future pandemics and other biological threats. Otherwise, we'll be badly letting ourselves and future generations down,” he said.

Smith, in her remarks, said that there are two challenges in controlling the pandemic.

“First, to shorten the lifespan of a borderless pandemic that is destroying lives and livelihoods all over the world. And the second is to ensure that we can prevent, detect, and respond to those future global health threats we know are coming. American leadership is desperately needed, and I'm extremely confident we can rise to the occasion,” she said.

The US is the worst affected country from the pandemic in the world.

It has reported 30,769,369 COVID-19 cases and 555,377 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

President Biden had last month set the target of achieving 200 million shots of COVID-19 vaccination in the first 100 days of his administration. PTI LKJ RS RS