President Joe Biden outlined his plan Thursday for the first of 80 million coronavirus vaccine doses that the US will distribute globally before July, with 75 percent of shots disbursed via the Covax program.
In a fact sheet, the White House said that for the doses shared through Covax, Washington would prioritize countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa as it aims to help stave off fresh surges of infections.
“We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions,” Biden said in a statement.
“We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values.”
Earlier this year, Biden pledged to export 60 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to countries around the world — then bumped it up to 80 million.
The commitment came amid pressure from other governments to use the United States’ large vaccine surplus to help struggling nations now that significant progress has been made in rolling out vaccinations at home. “The process to export the first 25 million is underway,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters.
“We will deliver on the president’s commitment of 80 million doses by the end of June.”
He said the first tranche is coming from the federal supply of doses and will be comprised of a combination of the three vaccines with current US emergency use authorization: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.
A vaccine created by AstraZeneca has yet to earn US authorization but is in use elsewhere.
Covax is an international scheme cofounded by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the vaccine alliance Gavi intended to get enough vaccines for 30 percent of the population in 92 of the poorest participating territories — 20 percent in India — with donors covering the cost.
Gavi quickly welcomed Biden’s step, with its chief executive Seth Berkley saying, “This announcement allows us to quickly get more doses to countries in a strained global supply climate” and move towards ending the acute phase of the pandemic.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus weighed in to say he was “very appreciative” of the US move.
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