WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States has donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 60 countries, ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia, the White House said on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden was due to discuss this step and later on Tuesday in remarks briefing the public on the US strategy to slow the spread of the coronavirus abroad.
The announcement comes amid an increase in infections in the United States, fueled by the highly contagious delta strain of the virus, which led US public health officials to recommend last week that people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are starting to wear face coverings again in some indoor public spaces.
Biden promised the United States would be the world’s “vaccine arsenal”, and he shipped the most vaccines overseas of any donor country.
But while notable, the 110 million doses the United States has given largely through a global vaccine program known as COVAX is a fraction of what is needed globally.
The White House said in a statement on Tuesday that the United States would begin shipping 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccine in late August that it promised to 100 low-income countries by June 2022.
The 110 million doses donated came from surplus vaccine stocks in the United States as the pace of national vaccinations slowed amid widespread reluctance to immunize in the country.
About 90 million eligible Americans aged 12 and older have yet to receive a dose of the vaccine.
Biden had pledged to ship more than 80 million doses overseas by the end of June, but was only able to share a fraction due to logistical and regulatory hurdles in recipient countries.
The pace of shipments accelerated considerably until July.
As part of Biden’s sharing plan, around 75% of US doses are shared through COVAX, which aims to help low- and middle-income countries, with the rest being sent to US partners and allies.
The White House insists nothing is asked for in return for the shootings, contrasting its approach to Russia and China, which it says have used access to their domestically produced vaccines as a tool to geopolitical lever.
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