State Department: U.S. ‘leading the world’ in coronavirus fight while China takes credit

The State Department is touting a nearly $300 million American aid package for dozens of countries battling coronavirus at a moment when China seeks to portray itself as the global leader in responding to the pandemic. A department fact sheet circulated in recent days asserted outright that the “U.S. Government is leading the world’s humanitarian and health assistance response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Department officials issued the document Friday after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the freeing up of $274 million in new American humanitarian aid. Mr. Pompeo said the money “will provide resources to 64 of the world’s most at-risk countries to better combat the pandemic and enable the UN High Commissioner on Refugees to assist some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.” The funds include some $50 million allocated to 19 different nations in Africa for a range of initiatives — from bolstering public information campaigns about coronavirus to beefing up funding for health officials tracking its spread. Nigeria, which is by far the continent’s most populous nation with more than 200 million people, will receive some $7 million in health-focused aid, according to the State Department fact sheet. The aid allocation reaches far beyond Africa as well, with roughly $15 million to be spread among 12 Eastern European and Eurasian nations. That includes Ukraine, which will receive more than $1.2 million to “help prepare laboratory systems” aimed at bolstering the country’s ability to identify and track coronavirus patients. The fact sheet noted that U.S. government aid has provided long-term health investments in Ukraine over the past 20 years totaling nearly $362 million — on top of the some $5 billion in security and other U.S. assistance provided to Kiev over the same period.

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