On vaccinating the globe, Blinken warns: 'We have to speed this up'

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a joint news conference following a bilateral meeting with Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in London, Britain May 3, 2021 during the G7 foreign ministers meeting. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Vaccinating the globe against COVID-19 needs to be sped up to beat mutations of the virus and the United States is looking at how it can do more to help, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.

“If the entire world doesn’t do more, the world won’t be vaccinated until 2024. We can speed this up and get that done, I think, in much shorter time,” Blinken said in an interview with MSNBC during a visit to Ukraine.

The United States has pledged to start sharing up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine with other countries and President Joe Biden on Wednesday threw U.S. support behind waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines.

“We’re looking at other things too, but the main thing is, we have to speed this up,” Blinken said. “None of us are going to be fully safe until … we get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

He described a patent waiver as “one possible means of increasing manufacture, and access to vaccines.” The U.S. decision paved the way for what could be months of negotiations at the World Trade Organization to hammer out a specific plan.

It comes amid a devastating outbreak in India, which accounted for 46% of the new COVID-19 cases recorded worldwide last week, and signs that the outbreak is spreading to Nepal, Sri Lanka and other neighbors.

“If it’s mutating with a new variant, it could come back here and bite us even after people have been vaccinated, so we have to get ahead of that and we have to get ahead of it around the world,” Blinken said.

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