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To the editor: Thanks to Dave Phelps for his announcement that Berkshire Health Systems will mandate COVID vaccination for employees by Oct. 1.

This is a very welcomed announcement as we make our community safer for all. But what about the rest of the world?

Many low-income countries are imposing new lockdowns to stop a third and fourth wave of COVID-19 infections given lack of access to COVID-19 vaccines. Across Africa, just 1 percent of the population has been vaccinated and the delta variant is spreading like wildfire. Everyone deserves access to the COVID-19 vaccine, no matter where they live. Vaccinating the world is the only way to make all of us safe.

According to Right to Health Action: “Experts agree that it will cost $20 billion annually to pandemic-proof the planet. COVID-19 cost the U.S. economy $16 trillion.” We cannot afford — economically, morally, ethically or for our mutual health — to allow the high-income countries to hoard vaccines while the rest of the world waits.

I call on Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and Rep. Richard Neal to include $25 billion for global vaccine access in budget reconciliation as well as supporting new legislation to prevent future pandemics.

Leslye Heilig, M.D., Great Barrington