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The pandemic

Biden needs Bush to help him beat Covid

Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

If Joe Biden is serious about ending the pandemic, says James Harding in The New York Times, he should “relieve George W Bush of his paintbrush and draft him as America’s vaccine envoy”. We associate “Dubya” with Iraq, but millions around the world remember him for saving their lives in a previous pandemic: Aids. It was Bush who led the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief to combat HIV/Aids in Africa and elsewhere. It brought the crisis under control in more than 50 countries around the world. Since 2003 it has invested more than $85bn in saving, at a conservative estimate, 20 million lives – the largest commitment to fighting a single disease in history.

We need Bush back. Fighting Covid is a race “between vaccines and variants”, and we’re losing. We need a representative who “cannot be ignored”, who can use the “bully pulpit and back-room pressure” to get world leaders and big pharma to accelerate the delivery and distribution of vaccines, and to sell those vaccines to a doubtful public. “Roll up your sleeve and do your part,” said Bush in a public service announcement in March. We’re in an arms race against the coronavirus. Biden should continue a great American tradition of bipartisanship during crises and draft Bush for one last “necessary fight”.