Even though the State Department received almost enough US-made Covid-19 vaccines for every employee, some diplomats have had to ask host countries for jabs and suffered indignities such as anal tests in China, a new report says.
The State Department has received “roughly” 73,000 doses of the US-made Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but “declined to say” how many of its estimated 75,000 employees it has vaccinated, the Washington Post reported.
Some of the diplomats stationed in Moscow have asked Russia for its Sputnik V vaccine, after Foggy Bottom “could not promise delivery” of American vaccines “in the near future,” the paper added.
The State Dept has approved vaccine offers from 13 nations for its diplomats with more to come. Some feel relieved, some feel sheepish. “It’s embarrassing for the world’s richest country to require the charity of other nations when it comes to vaccines,” said one US diplomat 2/
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) February 17, 2021
To the Post, this was a scandal because Sputnik V has not yet been approved by the US health authorities or the World Health Organization, even though its effectiveness has been confirmed by peer-reviewed scientific studies.
Some 21 countries have offered to share their own supply of US-made Pfizer or Moderna jabs with American diplomats, and Foggy Bottom has already accepted 13 offers, the paper reported.
“It’s embarrassing for the world’s richest country to require the charity of other nations when it comes to vaccines… especially when you consider that the best vaccines were made in the US,” the Post quoted one US diplomat posted to the Middle East as saying. They remained anonymous, just like every other source in the article.
According to these officials, some US personnel in China were subjected to anal-swab tests for the coronavirus. Asked about this, a department spokesman said the US was “evaluating all reasonable options” to address the issue with the aim of preserving the “dignity” of its diplomats.
Meanwhile, some diplomats have complained that the department is “prioritizing domestic workers” posted in Washington and New York, “with no real plan for the rest of us,” including staff posted in high-risk countries. Health staff from embassies abroad have been “hollowed out” to assist with vaccinations in DC, another diplomat said.
State Department “leaders” have denied “disproportionally” benefiting Washington employees but told the Post they were implementing “tougher vetting” of who gets the vaccine in the US.
According to the paper, Foggy Bottom requested a total of 315,000 doses from the US Department of Health and Human Services, but has received only 23 percent of that in three separate batches so far.
The first tranche primarily went to US employees on the East Coast, but some were sent to Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. The second covered passport offices in the US, but also diplomats in West Africa, Mexico and Turkmenistan. Most of the third allotment will go to eastern and southern Africa, the Post reported.
It was unclear from the report how many, if any, vaccines would go to local staff employed by US embassies around the world. So far, 42 of them have died of the coronavirus, along with five US employees, based on what the newly appointed Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told staff in his introductory speech last month.
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