Secretary Blinken’s Virtual Meeting with Foreign Ministers Regarding the Omicron Variant
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met virtually with several foreign ministers and representatives of regional organizations involved in the response to the Omicron variant today. They exchanged information to better understand the Omicron variant, coordinate a global response, and accelerate efforts to combat COVID-19.
Secretary Blinken reiterated the United States’ appreciation to scientists from South Africa and Botswana, as well as others, who quickly identified the new variant and shared samples and data, noting that this type of transparency is core to our collective global health security.
The ministers were briefed on initial scientific findings of the variant’s severity, transmissibility, and existing treatments and vaccines. They discussed regional impacts of the Omicron variant and policy responses going forward. The Secretary noted that the emergence of variants underscores the urgent need to accelerate efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and called on partners to redouble international and domestic efforts.
Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to partner with countries and organizations to end the pandemic in 2022, which includes the U.S. Initiative for Global Vaccine Access (Global VAX) as our whole of government effort to speeding shots into arms and reflects a U.S. commitment of over $1.6 billion to date. To further this effort, the Secretary announced $580 million in new funds for seven multilateral partners to support the critical work they are doing to help end the pandemic, strengthen public health capacity, and provide urgent relief, bringing the total of U.S. health and humanitarian assistance to combat COVID-19 to more than $19.6 billion. The Secretary also shared that the United States has now provided over 330 million vaccine doses in partnership with COVAX or bilaterally, as part of our 1.2 billion dose commitment.