Standing together to face down a pandemic


It would have been hard to predict six months ago how a rapidly spreading pandemic would alter all our lives and affect economies around the world.

To overcome the pandemic that affects all of us, we need to work together with full transparency, sharing information and understandings to combat COVID-19, control its spread, and prevent future outbreaks.

This global crisis requires a global effort. We are all in this together, and now is the time to work together to stop the pandemic and prevent future ones from negatively impacting the lives and health of so many people all across the world.

History proves that we can fight public health emergencies at home even as we help other nations contain the spread of disease abroad. We do this because we know that combating COVID-19 outside our borders means a healthier world.

In fact, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has worked for over 30 years here in Saudi Arabia to train Saudi disease experts to help protect the health and safety of the Saudi people.

The program has trained 140 Saudi disease experts, and together we have tackled chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease and even the reduction of road injuries. Now we are working together to help defeat COVID-19.

Our team at the US Consulate in Jeddah appreciates the close collaboration of the Saudi government, the public and private sectors and with our friends, the Saudi people.

Global health security has long been a concern of the United States. For more than a half century, the United States has been the largest contributor to global health security while in the 21st century alone the United States has contributed more than $140 billion in global health assistance.

Through the American people’s generosity and the US government’s action, the United States continues to demonstrate global leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic — even while we battle the virus at home.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the US government has committed more than $500 million in assistance specifically aimed at fighting the pandemic.

Our great military has been on the front lines of this effort since the start of the pandemic, with US soldiers in Europe building field hospitals, American military doctors treating non-coronavirus patients at US facilities, and American soldiers assisting local authorities in Germany, Poland, the UK, and elsewhere.

We are working with our NATO allies to coordinate inventory among capitals and using military cargo plans to transport equipment to Europe from as far away as South Korea. We are doing what allies do to support each other.

In early February this year, when China was the COVID-19 epicenter, the United States delivered more than 17 tons of medical supplies, donated by the American people, to help keep Chinese health care workers safe. We continue to offer assistance to the people of China.

Americans don’t just provide aid through government means. Our All-of-America approach is helping people around the world through the generosity and ingenuity of private businesses, nonprofit groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, and individuals.

Together, Americans have provided nearly $3 billion in assistance, in addition to what the US government has provided. For example, Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with General Electric (GE) Healthcare, has committed to producing 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days and 30,000 per month thereafter.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the 3M Company has doubled its output of N95 respirator masks around the world.

The United States and the American people continue to demonstrate American leadership through our health and humanitarian assistance — and together with other nations, we will defeat this pandemic.

— The writer is US Consul General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia