Gail Smith will handle vaccine issues globally
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has appointed Gail Smith, former coordinator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) who helped lead the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak, as coordinator of the Global COVID Response and Sanitation and Epidemiological Security area at the State Department.
In his remarks, Anthony Blinken noted that many countries are asking the U.S. to increase supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine, and that Washington is working to do so.
“We have already loaned the vaccine to our closest neighbors: Mexico and Canada. We will work with international partners to produce and supply it to ensure that there will be enough vaccine for everyone and everywhere,” Blinken said.
The United States, which has not yet authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine, said it plans to send about 4 million doses of the vaccine to Mexico and Canada under bilateral agreements. Washington also announced that, along with its three closest partners in the Indo-Pacific region, it would commit to shipping up to a billion doses of the vaccine throughout Asia by the end of 2022.
Anthony Blinken said Gail Smith has experience dealing with global health crises, including malaria, tuberculosis and HIV. She was previously the CEO of ONE Campaign, a global organization working to eradicate extreme poverty and preventable diseases by 2030.
Speaking after Blinken, Smith said that “with common purpose, science, vigilance and leadership,” the world can defeat any virus.
“American leadership is essential, and I have every confidence that we can meet the demands,” she added.