United States President Joe Biden has announced a donation of 500 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to the world’s poorest countries to help accelerate the end of the pandemic, without “any strings attached.”
Biden, keen to polish his multilateral credentials on his first trip overseas as a leader, on Thursday called the donation a bold move that showed the United States recognizes its responsibility to the world and to its own citizens.
“The United States provides these half a billion doses without any strings attached. No conditions are attached, ”said Biden, speaking alongside Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay ahead of a G7 summit.
“Our vaccine donations do not include pressure for favors or potential concessions. We are doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic, and that’s it, ”he said.
The US commitment is to purchase and donate 500 million doses of Pfizer for distribution through the COVAX global alliance to 92 low-income countries and the African Union.
Biden had faced increasing pressure to present his global vaccine-sharing plan, especially as supply inequalities around the world became more pronounced and demand for vaccines in the United States fell sharply. these last weeks.
“It is our very strong belief that given the lack of coverage around the world, it is absolutely essential to take a big step like this to get more vaccines into the system as quickly as possible,” Gayle said. Smith, U.S. State Global COVID Coordinator. Department.
“These vaccines will be available from August, even as we postpone the 80 million doses that have already been announced,” she said at a press conference Thursday.
Officials said the goal is to distribute 200 million doses by the end of the year. The remaining 300 million doses would be shipped in the first half of 2022.
So far, COVAX has only distributed 81 million doses and some parts of the world, particularly in Africa, have not yet received any shipments.
Several countries in Central and South America, where COVID-19 cases have increased again, have yet to make significant progress in their vaccination campaigns.
Last week, Biden announced a plan to share 25 million “excess” vaccine doses. The White House said most of the doses would go to COVAX, while some six million doses would go directly to countries.
After dominating the world in new cases and deaths for much of last year, the rapid vaccination program in the United States now positions it among the leaders in the global recovery.
Almost 64% of adults in the United States have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the average number of new positive cases and deaths in the United States is lower today than at any time since the first days of the pandemic.
Anti-poverty campaign group Oxfam welcomed the announcement and called for more to be done to increase global vaccine production.
“Certainly these 500 million doses of vaccine are welcome because they will help more than 250 million people, but it is still a drop of water compared to the needs in the world”, declared Niko Lusiani, head of vaccines of ‘Oxfam America.
“We need a transformation towards more distributed vaccine manufacturing so that skilled producers around the world can produce billions of additional doses at low cost on their own terms, without intellectual property constraints,” Lusiani said in a statement. communicated.
Another obstacle, especially in some poor countries, is the infrastructure for transporting vaccines, which often have to be stored at very cold temperatures.