Biden to convene virtual virus summit on fringe of UN

·2 min read
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the economy at the White House in Washington

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden will convene a virtual COVID-19 summit on Wednesday on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly aimed at boosting vaccinations worldwide with the goal of ending the pandemic by the end of 2022.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States will be asking participants to commit to "a higher level of ambition" on making vaccines available on a more equitable basis and getting shots in arms, among other steps recommended to address the pandemic.

Biden travels to New York on Monday for his first trip as president to attend the U.N. General Assembly and will speak to the gathered world leaders on Tuesday. He will convene the virus summit from the White House.

A senior administration official said Biden will issue a call to action. The summit is not a pledging conference, "though we hope and expect some partners will come prepared to announce new efforts."

"We need to end the pandemic – as soon as possible, aiming by the end of next year. We also need to build capacity so that all countries, everywhere, are able to prevent, detect, and respond to future biological threats and mitigate outbreaks on their communities," the official said.

Biden wants to attack the pandemic globally by bringing together global leaders from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, philanthropists and civil society leaders to help end the pandemic and prevent the next one, the official said.

More talks on the subject are expected among world leaders, including at the G20 summit to be held in Rome at the end of October.

More than 227.26 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 4,877,603​ have died, according to a Reuters tally https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/worldwide-coronavirus-cases-cross-15903-million-death-toll-3444309-2021-05-11.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

(Reporting By Steve HollandEditing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)

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