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The tragedy of COVID-19 can be fertile soil for deep structural reforms. President Biden can both bolster the immediate responses to COVID-19 and its vast ramifications, and spearhead lasting changes to create a healthier and safer world, from which the United States would richly benefit. The agenda we propose for President Biden is ambitious, yet US. bold leadership on global health will benefit all people, including Americans, and is in the U.S. national interest

Along with responding to the COVID-19 domestically, the Biden administration should enhance U.S.-initiatives home, expanding the Global Health Security Agenda and restoring and reinvigorating the PREDICT animal virus identification and tracking project, while ensuring that the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile is fully stocked with critical medical supplies and expanding research and development of antimicrobials. To enable the world to benefit from U.S. science – and to benefit from it – the administration should support the Open Science movement. And the administration should work with Congress to use devote 2% of past and future U.S. domestic COVID-19 spending to the global response, extend a debt moratorium, and enhance debt cancellation.

The United States should lead strengthened global governance for health security, beginning with proposing a doubling of mandatory WHO contributions, WHO reform including enhanced civil society participation, and strengthening the International Health Regulations (2005). Meanwhile, along with joining and funding the global vaccine distribution mechanism, COVAX, the Biden administration should propose creating a permanent facility for distributing PPE and other medical supplies and equipment, diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines during epidemics and pandemics. And by supporting use of TRIPS-flexibilities and, going further, supporting suspending intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 technologies, expanding production and increasing access, the administration would enable expanded global production, enhanced access, and lower prices. Finally, the Biden administration should lead a collaborative global effort to ensure that the global health architecture is firmly based in human rights, which would enhance equity and accountability and elevate the voices and priorities of marginalized populations. At its foundation would be the Framework Convention on Global Health, a proposed treaty that, if adopted, would strengthen implementation of the right to health and promote global health equity, while a Right to Health Capacity Fund could support right-to-health advocacy, accountability, and participation mechanisms.

Publication Citation

AJIL Unbound, Vol. 115, Pp. 74-79.