“America knows firsthand the tragedy of this pandemic. We have had more deaths in the United States than anywhere in the world, nearly 600,000 of our fellow Americans,” Biden said in remarks after meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
He added, “We know the tragedy. We also know the path to recovery.”
The move will also serve to counter efforts by Russia and China to use their own publicly funded vaccines to expand their global influence.
“American workers will now produce vaccines that will save the lives of people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean – people they will never meet and have never met. Places they have never met. have never visited and likely will not have the opportunity to visit. But lives have been saved nonetheless, thanks to American leadership, American workers, hard work and values, “Biden said Thursday.
Hundreds of millions of doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, as well as the Chinese Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, have been circulated around the world. Only the Sinopharm vaccine has been accepted in the COVAX initiative of the World Health Organization.
Many countries – including Latin America, which has traditionally been an area of American influence – have purchased large numbers of Russian and Chinese vaccines to fill gaps in their own vaccine deployments.
The White House has said it is monitoring and concerned about efforts by Russia and China to use vaccines to achieve geopolitical gains.
During remarks announcing the purchase of the vaccine, Biden stressed that there were no conditions for accepting vaccines purchased in the United States.
“Be clear: just like the 80 million doses we announced earlier, the United States is providing these half billion doses without any conditions,” Biden said. “Our vaccine donations do not include pressure for potential favors or concessions. We are doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic. That’s it. Period.”
Administration officials have suggested the move is part of a larger effort for democracies around the world to lead the way in recovery from a pandemic.
“This will clearly be the largest purchase and donation of Covid-19 vaccines by a single country by far, and it is an unprecedented response,” a senior administration official told reporters on Thursday.
“We want to do everything possible to prevent more tragic losses across the world,” the official said, adding that it is “in our national interest to end this pandemic everywhere”.
“Covid-19 knows no borders, and as long as this virus is in our world, Americans are in danger,” the official said, stressing that the virus “also threatens economic opportunities”.
The move to give doses is also meant to encourage other U.S. allies to step up their efforts.
“We are also using this announcement today to leverage and mobilize broader commitments from democracies around the world, the G7 and partner countries,” said a separate senior official, previewing a “multilateral announcement related to the G7 Covid “.
At the G7 summit this weekend, the official said, leaders will announce a “collective effort by the world’s democracies to beat Covid-19 once and for all.”
The donation comes as Biden has repeatedly said the world is at an inflection point to show whether democracy can prevail over autocracy.
As for the timing, officials said doses of Pfizer will start shipping in August and 200 million doses will be delivered by the end of this year. The remaining 300 million doses will be delivered in the first half of 2022. They will be manufactured in the United States, officials said, “employing thousands of workers” in states such as Michigan, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The cost will be around $ 1.5 billion, which will come from funds previously allocated in the US bailout relief plan adopted earlier this year.
Biden previously pledged to share 80 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine with other countries. Last week, the Biden administration announced a plan to share the first 25 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine with the rest of the world and a global framework for distributing at least 80 million doses by the end of June.
About 75% of those donated vaccines will be shared with the global immunization program called Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, or COVAX, and about 25% will be shared directly with countries in need, the White House said.
Biden said last month that the United States would share an additional 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of June in addition to the 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that the president had already pledged to share. here July 4th. The additional 20 million doses will include Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as well as AstraZeneca, which must be approved by federal regulators before being shipped overseas.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.