WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the United States will purchase and donate half a billion Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer to countries in difficulty of supply.
Biden stressed that the effort was in the best interest of the United States and that he would expect nothing in return from other countries.
“From the start of my presidency, we have clearly understood that we need to attack this virus on a global scale,” said Biden, speaking from Cornwall, UK. “We value the inherent dignity of all. In times of turmoil, Americans reach out to lend a hand.”
Biden, who is in the region to attend the Group of Seven summit, said the US contribution would lay the “groundwork” for other wealthy countries to share vaccines globally and for G-7 leaders. would announce Friday “the full extent of our commitment” to deal with the pandemic.
The announcement comes as vaccine supply exceeds demand in the United States – with about 64% of American adults now having received at least one injection – and as Biden faces increasing pressure to do more to help d other countries as it is feared that the strategy of China and Russia to sell or donate their vaccines to other countries allows them to extend their influence around the world.
Biden said the United States would provide the vaccines to other countries “unconditionally,” adding that “vaccine donations do not include pushing for favors or potential concessions. We are doing this to save lives. , to end this pandemic. That’s it. “
The United States and other wealthy countries have come under fire for ramping up their vaccine rollouts as poorer countries struggle to get vaccines. Experts have warned that global immunization inequalities could prolong the pandemic for everyone if the coronavirus continues to mutate, which could make it more infectious and resistant to vaccines.
Biden, warning of the threat of Covid-19 variants, said donating the vaccines to other countries was in “America’s personal interest.”
“As long as the virus rages elsewhere, there is a risk of further mutations that could threaten our people,” Biden said.
The 500 million vaccines will be delivered through COVAX, a humanitarian program managed in part by the World Health Organization that aims to distribute vaccines equitably, and will be distributed to 92 low-income countries and the African Union.
Of the doses, 200 million will be delivered by the end of this year from August and the remaining 300 million will be delivered in the first half of 2022. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, so the US donation will be able to vaccinate completely. 250 million people.
COVAX’s goal is to make 2 billion doses available to countries that need them by the end of the year. So far, around 81 million doses of the vaccine have been shipped to more than 129 participants.
Biden, who was joined by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Thursday, said the 500 million vaccines would be produced at facilities in the United States
The White House said Biden’s announcement marked the largest vaccine purchase and donation ever made by a single country. The United States has also pledged $ 2 billion to COVAX, which the White House has also said is more than any other country.
Germany and France have each pledged to give 30 million doses by the end of the year while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday said Britain would give “millions” of doses, but no did not specify when.
The US donation of 500 million Pfizer vaccines builds on the Biden administration’s previous commitment to share 80 million vaccines from the US supply with other countries by the end of June. The first deliveries of these doses will be released in the coming weeks.
Biden said Thursday’s announcement would not end the United States’ commitments to help fight the pandemic around the world.