Biden administration to buy 500 mn Covid-19 vaccines to donate to low-income nations
U.S. President Joe Biden (Photo by Phil Noble – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
US PRESIDENT Joe Biden is set to announce plans on Thursday (10) to buy and donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to more than 90 countries while calling on the world’s democracies to do their part to help end the deadly pandemic, the White House said.
Biden will announce the vaccine donation, the largest ever by a single country, ahead of his meeting with leaders of the other G7 nations- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan- in Cornwall, England.
“The goal of today’s donation is to save lives and end the pandemic and will provide the foundation for additional actions to be announced in the coming days,” the White House said.
The new donations come on top of some 80 mn doses Washington has already pledged to donate by the end of June, and $2 bn in funding earmarked for the COVAX program led by the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the White House said.
Washington is also taking steps to support local production of Covid-19 vaccines in other countries, including through its Quad initiative with Japan, India and Australia.
“President Biden has been clear that borders cannot keep this pandemic at bay and has vowed that our nation will be the arsenal of vaccines,” the White House said.
The US donations will go through the COVAX program to 92 low and lower-middle-income countries and the African Union, with 200 million doses to be delivered by the end of the year, and the rest in the first half of 2022. Shipments will begin in August, the White House said.
The donation was negotiated over the past four weeks by White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients and the coronavirus task force team, a source familiar with the matter said.
Talks are also on Moderna Inc about buying some of its shots to donate to other countries.
The pandemic has killed about 3.9 million people around the world, with the infection reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
Biden’s announcement comes amid mounting pressure for the US, which has now given at least one shot to around 64 per cent of its adult population, to boost donations of Covid-19 shots to other countries that are desperately seeking doses.
Top officials at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank warned that huge disparities in vaccination rates could prolong the pandemic, slowing a global economic recovery, and raising the risk that more deadly potentially vaccine-resistant- variants will emerge.