United States president Joe Biden spent his first full day in office on Thursday signing a number of executive orders addressing the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected more people in the United States than anyplace else in the world. The U.S. has 24.6 million of the world’s more than 97 million infections.
One of Biden’s orders would increase production of a syringe that pharmacists have discovered allows them to extract an extra dose of the vaccine from vials.
The establishment of the Pandemic Testing Board is the result of another executive order. The aim of the new board is to increase COVID testing. Many Americans are still scrambling to secure testing appointments.
In other news on Biden’s first full day in office, the country’s leading infectious disease expert said the United States will participate in the global initiative to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Biden’s chief medical adviser, told the executive board of the World Health Organization on Thursday during a videoconference that the United States will join the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or COVAX, an international alliance led by WHO that seeks to provide COVID vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.
Fauci also said the U.S. would fulfill its financial obligations to the United Nations health agency and maintain its previous staffing commitments. His remarks came one day after Biden issued an order on his first day in office pledging to restore Washington’s ties with WHO. Former President Donald Trump announced in May that he was withdrawing the United States from the WHO, accusing the agency of helping China cover up the extent of the coronavirus, which was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019.
The COVAX initiative announced on Thursday that it is aiming to deliver 1.8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to poor countries in 2021, and hopes to fulfill supply deals for wealthier ones in the second half of the year.
The world is racing against time to produce and deliver billions of doses of new coronavirus vaccines to blunt the pandemic, which has killed over 2 million people out of a total of over 97 million confirmed COVID-19 infections, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Vaccination efforts have run into numerous difficulties, however, including logistical hurdles, bureaucratic failures and a basic shortage of vaccines, which has led to residents across the U.S. having had their vaccine appointments canceled.