President Joe Biden told African leaders on Wednesday that “there surely will be” another pandemic while speaking about America’s vaccine efforts abroad.
“The United States delivered 231 — 231 million doses of vaccines to 49 countries across Africa, and worked together with you to get the vaccines into the arms to har- — in hard-to-reach communities,” Biden said while delivering remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum.
“And even as we work to end COVID-19, we continue building stronger health systems and institutions, and accelerating efforts to achieve universal health coverage to make sure we’re better prepared to tackle the health challenges, including the next pandemic. And there surely will be one,” the president added.
Biden met with African heads of state and representatives of over 300 American and African companies on Wednesday during the business forum, announcing over $15 billion in two-way deals.
The event is part of a multi-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by the Biden administration in Washington, D.C. — the first one held since 2014. Forty-nine African leaders were invited to the summit, aimed at expanding U.S.-African relations amid increasing Chinese and Russian influence in the continent. (RELATED: Ebola Outbreak Won’t Stop Obama’s Plans For Summit Of African Leaders)
The Biden administration has said that the summit is not about foreign adversaries.
“This summit is really about our relationship with the continent. It’s not about other countries and their engagement,” a senior administration official said Thursday.
A reporter pressed national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday on whether Biden will deliver any kind of warning to the leaders about China’s growing economic aid to the continent.
“This is going to be about what we can offer. It’s going to be a positive proposition about the United States’ partnership with Africa. It’s not going to be about other countries. It’s not going to be attempting to compare and contrast. It’s rather going to be about the affirmative agenda that the United States has to bring to bear with Africa,” Sullivan responded.
Biden will host African leaders Wednesday night at the White House for the Summit dinner, and speak about climate change and food security Thursday.