Congress must pass more funding for international COVID-19 vaccination

Although the last relief package included crucial foreign assistance to undergird the global response to the pandemic, such efforts have slowed down. The United States must take the lead in helping those who need it the most.

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A health worker inoculates a woman with a dose of the Covishield vaccine during a special booster vaccination drive at a railway station in Secunderabad, India on July 19.

Noah Seelam/AFP via Getty Images

The Sun-Times article “‘Relentless roller coaster: COVID-19 subvariants put Chicago area at high risk level — again” highlighted that coronavirus cases are rising in Cook County. It is heartbreaking that hospitalizations are increasing, but it is excellent that typical precautions, like vaccinations and masks, can still protect against the spread.

Although the Cook County Department of Public Health can assure people that vaccines will protect them even during the current uptick in cases, the same is not true in other countries.

In low-income countries, only about 21% of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. While we’re worried about newer waves of the virus, people internationally have never stopped struggling to find a vaccine. Poverty reduction has stalled, and the economic disruption caused by the pandemic threatens to increase extreme poverty rates.

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Although the last relief package included crucial foreign assistance to undergird the global response to the pandemic, such efforts have slowed down. The United States must take the lead in helping those who need it the most.

The unforeseen socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19 will continue for decades. Increased global poverty reduces the international market for U.S. businesses; it also creates conflict-ridden zones filled with desperate people. If the moral imperative is not enough, think of yourself, your economic prospects and your safety. Congress must pass supplemental funding for international COVID-19 vaccine delivery and distribution globally.

In the meantime, citizens must support nonprofit organizations, like The Borgen Project, that work to prioritize poverty reduction as part of U.S. foreign policy. The fight against global poverty and the pandemic is far from over, and further action on all fronts is necessary to prevent the worst consequences.

Isabella Piekut, Park Ridge

Remembering sane, comforting times

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Sound familiar?

How about this? A lone shooter fires an assault rifle randomly into a crowd of innocent people, killing and injuring men, women and children. How many times have we heard that story?

The Highland Park shooter was the classic, deeply troubled bad guy that red flag laws were designed to target and disarm. So, what happened? More urgently, how can we stop this from ever happening again?

I am a third-generation Highland Parker who was at the event. As I later recall seeing the HP band march by in their blue and white uniforms just before shots rang out, and then watch as they, along with everyone else who could, run for their lives, I find comfort in remembering saner times and the school’s fight song:

“Highland Park we’re loyal ever/To your standards we’ll be true/Whether up or whether down/We will smile and never frown/We are proud of you Highland Park”

Phillip Kock, Highland Park

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