President Joe Biden will convene a virtual conference on the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the White House announced on Friday.
Biden will host the virtual summit next Weds., Sept. 22, and the White House has not yet detailed who will attend the event. Additional details will be available in the coming days.
“This meeting is about expanding and enhancing our shared efforts to defeat COVID-19, building out from previous gatherings of world leaders and ministers in fora like the G7, G20, and Act Accelerator to rally civil society, NGOs, philanthropists, and industry along with world leaders and align on a common vision for defeating COVID-19 together,” a White House statement said of the COVID summit.
The meeting will center around four key themes:
- Vaccinate the World: Leaders will discuss increasing equitable access to vaccines to up shots-in-arms around the world.
- Save Lives Now: Leaders will discuss how to solve the oxygen crisis in struggling nations by making life-saving therapeutics more widely available.
- Build Back Better: A reference to Biden’s domestic agenda, leaders will discuss partnerships to address emerging threats and the creation of a “sustainable health security financing mechanism,” per the White House.
- Calling the World to Account: Leaders will align on targets and discuss benchmarks to meet common goals.
The United States has been “leading the world on ending the pandemic,” principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said to reporters on Tuesday, and the Biden administration plans to continue to do so. The U.S. has donated around 140 million COVID vaccine doses across nearly 90 countries, with another 200 million doses planned to go out later this year, Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.
“We’re having active discussions on how to best end the pandemic,” she said of the administration. “We will continue to rally the international community to raise the level of our collective ambition level and to take urgent actions as we see fit as we move forward.”
The White House previously announced that the president will travel to New York to deliver an address on Tuesday, Sept. 21. Biden also selected four UNGA representatives: Tom Carnahan, a renewable energy developer and attorney; Sim Farar, current chairman of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy; Arkansas’ Rep. French Hill and California Rep. Barbara Lee.
This year will be the first in-person meeting of the U.N. General Assembly since the pandemic started, as last year’s event was held virtually to protect leaders against the virus. Attendees at this year’s event will be required to show proof of vaccination, which has sparked concerns from at least one country.