President Biden announces international COVID-19 vaccine sharing plan
US President Joe Biden on Thursday announced his plans to allocate 75 per cent – nearly 19 million of the first tranche of 25 million doses – of unused COVID-19 vaccines through the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing programme to countries in South and Southeast Asia as well as Africa.
Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and three other world leaders and informed them that the US will begin sharing the first 25 million doses of COVID vaccines to their respective countries.
In a statement, President Biden provided details on how the US will allocate the first 25 million of the vaccines to lay the ground for increased global coverage and to address real and potential surges, high burdens of disease, and the needs of the most vulnerable countries.
“At least 75 percent of these doses – nearly 19 million- will be shared through COVAX, including approximately 6 million doses for Latin America and the Caribbean, approximately 7 million for South and Southeast Asia, and approximately 5 million for Africa,” Biden said.
“The remaining doses, just over 6 million, will be shared directly with countries experiencing surges, those in crisis, and other partners and neighbours, including Canada, Mexico, India, and the Republic of Korea,” he said.
The Biden administration had been under pressure to send the excess COVID-19 vaccines with the US to nations like India, which are facing severe vaccine shortages.
“We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic… And we will continue to follow the science and to work in close cooperation with our democratic partners to coordinate a multilateral effort, including through the G7,” Biden added.
COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organisation.
President Biden on May 17 said the US will share 20 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses with other countries, taking the total number of such shots to 80 million. Ten million is equal to one crore.
The additional 20 million doses will be of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, on top of 60 million AstraZeneca Plc doses he had already planned to give to other countries.
Biden said the United States “also recognise that ending this pandemic means ending it everywhere. As long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable. And the United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.”
Already the United States has committed USD 4 billion to support COVAX, and it has launched partnerships to boost global capacity to manufacture more vaccines, he said.
“My administration supports efforts to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines because, over time, we need more companies producing life-saving doses of proven vaccines that are shared equitably,” Biden said.
“We have already shared more than 4 million doses of vaccine with Canada and Mexico, and last month, I announced that, by the end of June, the United States will share 80 million doses of our vaccine supply with the world,” he said.
Noting that strong American leadership is essential to ending this pandemic now, and to strengthening global health security for tomorrow – to better prevent, detect, and respond to the next threat, Biden said the US will be the world’s arsenal of vaccines in “our shared fight against this virus.”
“In the days to come, as we draw on the experience of distributing the vaccine doses announced today, we will have more details to provide about how future doses will be shared. And we will continue to do all we can to build a world that is safer and more secure against the threat of infectious disease,” he added.