Media CenterFor Second Global COVID-19 Summit, CRS Calls on Administration to Focus More on Global Vaccine Equity, Hunger and Education

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Brittany Wichtendahl
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 11, 2022 – Ahead of tomorrow’s Second Global COVID-19 Summit, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has issued a new report, “Two years in, where are we now with COVID-19?” The report outlines the successes of the global COVID-19 response along with policy recommendations for addressing COVID-19’s secondary impacts, such as hunger and lost education.

“While we are pleased that the international community, including the United States, has recognized the importance of global cooperation, social safety nets and more robust health systems, the global COVID-19 response still needs much greater attention,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ executive vice president for Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy. “Insufficient funding has setback global COVID-19 vaccinations, education and addressing hunger. These areas are going to need attention in the months and years to come if the world is to truly recover and move on from this pandemic.”

Children especially require additional focus from the COVID-19 response. Globally, more than 1 billion students had to pause their education because of school closures and now, according to the World Economic Forum, they risk losing $14 trillion in lifetime earnings.

CRS’ report also highlights rising global hunger, which COVID-19 has exacerbated. In 2020, nearly 2.4 billion people were food insecure, an increase of 320 million people from 2019. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization anticipates that an additional 30 million people will face hunger in 2030 than would have without the pandemic.

CRS recommendations to the U.S. government include:

  1. Expand international leadership by funding global vaccination efforts and implore other leaders to do the same.
  2. Use the Second Global COVID-19 Summit to emphasize the urgency of the critical investment necessary to address future pandemics – both for vaccination equity as well as addressing secondary impacts.
  3. Expand pre-primary and primary education, while ensuring safe and inclusive learning environments and extra support services for children most at-risk, particularly girls.
  4. Expand access to child care programs globally, ensuring they are accessible, inclusive, affordable and safe for children.
  5. Increase funding aimed at preventing malnutrition, including increased local production of supplementary and therapeutic foods.

“The U.S. has been an advocate for global vaccine equity and for strengthening health care systems around the world, but we must do more to address the impacts of the pandemic everywhere,” O’Keefe said. “More global COVID funding is needed now.”

In the past two years, the U.S. has committed $10.8 billion toward the international response, in addition to 1.2 billion vaccines to be shared with other countries, of which more than 530 million have already been distributed. However, vaccine inequities persist, as 70% of the vaccine doses that have been administered globally have benefited high and upper-middle-income countries.

“While COVID-19 deaths are decreasing globally, the secondary impacts of the pandemic are still being felt and will be a concern for years to come,” said O’Keefe. “In order for the world to truly recover, we have to be more aggressive in ensuring vaccine equity so that we’re all protected from hospitalization and death. That requires increased funding for the global COVID response, but we can’t stop there. Our report urges the administration to go further.”

In the two and a half years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, CRS has addressed the immediate and secondary COVID-19 needs of more than 48 million people through a variety of programming, including training health care staff in COVID-19 prevention or care and health facilities that CRS supports with COVID-19 specific needs including personal protective equipment.

The full report, “Two years in, where are we now with COVID-19?” is available to view and download online.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Public Relations Strategist

Brittany Wichtendahl
May 11, 2022

Brittany Wichtendahl is a public relations strategist for Catholic Relief Services, out of Baltimore. Drafting press releases for secular and Catholic news media, Brittany also crafts pitches to help publicize CRS's work. She writes op-eds for placement in national print publications, and monitors news outlets for stories related to CRS and CRS programming.

Brittany is a graduate...More