Global health officials are increasingly concerned about what many are calling “Covid fatigue,” as world leaders deal with crises like the war in Ukraine, or turn to other pressing health concerns.
“Donors are predominantly saying, ‘Oh, we want to get back to, you know, whatever it was that they prefer funding like maternal child health, H.I.V., T.B., whatever it is, and they’re saying that there’s a reduced appetite for Covid,” said Dr. Fifa A. Rahman, an adviser to ACT-Accelerator, the consortium backed by the W.H.O. that is leading the global response.
The summit is a follow-up to one Mr. Biden convened in September; he will use the gathering to ask wealthy nations to step up their financial contributions for vaccines, tests and treatments. Specifically, he will call on developed nations to donate $2 billion to purchase Covid treatments and $1 billion to purchase oxygen supplies for low- and middle-income countries, according to a senior administration official involved with the planning.
The United States, working with international organizations, has donated more vaccine doses than any other nation to the global vaccination effort. Mr. Biden has pledged 1.2 billion doses to other nations; as of Monday, more than 539 million had been shipped, according to the State Department. But countries receiving the doses have had difficulty getting those shots into arms.
Activists and advocacy groups are increasingly impatient. Organizations including Public Citizen, the consumer health and safety nonprofit; Prep4All, an AIDS advocacy group; and HealthGAP, a global health advocacy group that operates in Uganda, are circulating a petition that blasts the United States government — though not Mr. Biden personally — for a “lack of leadership” that “is alarming and shortsighted.”
The petition urges the president to “act with reinvigorated urgency” and lays out specific demands, including working with international institutions and donor countries to “mobilize $48 billion this year to get the global response on track” and pressing drugmakers to share their intellectual property and technological know-how, not only for vaccines but also for Covid antivirals, which are plentiful in the United States, but not widely available in low- and middle-income countries.
“The administration is not spending political capital to demand that Congress act,” Asia Russell, the executive director of Health GAP, said in an interview, adding, “What we know from the global AIDS response is that decades were wasted dithering. Those wasted years translated into human lives lost. President Biden and his Covid chiefs, they have the power to change history.”