On this historic day, I am honored to join Honorable Minister Shrestha, as well as colleagues from UNICEF and the U.S. Mission, as the United States donates 1,534,850 Johnson & Johnson vaccines to Nepal through the COVAX facility.
This is a gift, at no cost, from the American people. Today’s delivery of this single dose vaccine means that this donation is enough to protect over 1.5 million people in Nepal from the deadly effects of COVID-19. We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. Our vaccines do not come with strings attached. Our terms are open and transparent: namely, we are doing this with the singular objective of saving lives.
These vaccines will help Nepal emerge from this pandemic. They will also help to recover economic losses and regain the opportunity to safely visit with our friends, families, and neighbors.
The United States is the nation that has the unenviable distinction of losing more of its citizens to COVID-19 than any other nation on earth. We’ve lost over 600,000 Americans. We know the viciousness of the disease and understand this virus has no borders. A challenge like COVID-19 requires partnership, and an equitable, global response.
The United States is also the world’s largest donor to global health by far, including through international efforts like the Global Fund and the World Health Organization – and through our own outstanding global health programs, like PEPFAR, which has helped bring the world to the cusp of the first AIDS-free generation.
The United States is the largest single country contributing to Nepal’s COVID response, to date contributing over $70 million to Nepal for its COVID response. This funding has provided testing kits, pulse oximeters, emergency medical supplies, personal protective equipment, telemedicine support, ventilators, oxygen tanks and supplies, breathing devices, and more.
As a proud member of COVAX, we’ve made a $2 billion donation, which will supply COVID vaccines to low-income and middle-income countries. On top of that, we’ve pledged another $2 billion that we’ll provide as other countries fulfill their own pledges.
President Biden’s administration recently stated we, as the United States of America, “share these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values.”
We are using the power of our democracy, the ingenuity of American scientists, and the strength of American humanitarian assistance to beat the pandemic. At the same time, we continue to leverage our longstanding partnerships with countries to solve pressing issues.
This is what the United States has been doing for over 73 years in Nepal. In partnership with the Government and people of Nepal, we have addressed health challenges, such as eliminating malaria and mobilizing national nutrition campaigns to reduce child mortality. And we will continue to work across our agencies, as our Department of Defense provides critical health commodities, and long-term disaster relief assistance across a range of governmental and civil society partners in Nepal. And USAID’s work building Nepal’s healthcare capacity, disaster preparedness, education, and climate resiliency among much more, has helped define our relationship with Nepal.
Because of decades of cooperation between our two countries, today millions of Nepalis are living healthier lives and participating more fully in their communities.
Today is a momentous day in the effort to beat this virus. But we are not naïve. We know that much work remains ahead of us. That’s why the United States will continue to support Nepal in the weeks and months ahead. Know that we are here, standing by your side as we have always been.
Please continue to follow the science and take precautions: wear a mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.
Stay safe, everyone.
Thank you. Namaste.