During a visit to the UK on Thursday, President Joe Biden praised a US plan to donate 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses to low-income countries as a “historic step” in the fight against Covid-19. “We need to attack this virus worldwide,” he said.
US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that a donation of 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to the world’s poorest countries would bolster the fight against the virus and will be delivered “without obligation.”
Speaking with Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla in the English seaside town of Carbis Bay ahead of a G7 summit, Biden thanked other leaders for recognizing their responsibility to vaccinate the world.
“The United States provides these half-billion doses without obligation. No obligations,” Biden said. “Our vaccine donations do not include pressure for favors or potential concessions. We are doing this to save lives.”
Biden, eager to polish his multilateral credentials on his first foreign trip as a leader, framed the donation as a bold move that showed America recognized its responsibility to the world and its own citizens.
“America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our fight against COVID-19, just as America was the arsenal of democracy during World War II,” Biden said.
The largest vaccine donation ever by a single country will cost the United States $3.5 billion, but will lead to further donations from other G7 leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
G7 leaders aim to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022 to try and end the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 3.9 million people, devastated the global economy and disrupted normal lives for billions of people. has turned his head.
Vaccination efforts to date have been strongly correlated with wealth: the United States, Europe, Israel and Bahrain are far ahead of other countries. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, a total of 2.2 billion people have been vaccinated so far out of a world population of nearly 8 billion.
US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have agreed to supply the US with the vaccines, with 200 million doses in 2021 and 300 million doses in the first half of 2022.
The shots, which will be produced at Pfizer’s US facilities, will be supplied at a non-profit price. About 100 countries will get the photos.
Pfizer CEO Bourla said the eyes of the world were on the leaders of rich countries to see if they would act to solve the COVID-19 crisis and share it with poorer countries.
“This announcement with the US government brings us closer to our goal and greatly enhances our ability to save even more lives around the world,” he said.
While such a large donation of vaccines was welcomed by many, there were immediate calls for the world’s richest countries to open up more of their gigantic stockpiles of vaccines.
Anti-poverty campaign group Oxfam called for more to do to increase global vaccine production.
“Certainly, these 500 million vaccine doses are welcome because they will help more than 250 million people, but that’s still a drop in the ocean compared to the need around the world,” said Niko Lusiani, Oxfam America’s vaccine leader.
“We need a transformation to more distributed vaccine production so that qualified manufacturers worldwide can produce billions of low-cost doses on their own terms, with no intellectual property restrictions,” he said in a statement.
Another problem, especially in some poor countries, is the infrastructure for transporting the vaccines, which often have to be stored at very low temperatures.
Biden also supported calls to waive some vaccine intellectual property rights, but there is no international consensus yet on how to proceed.
The new vaccine donations come on top of the 80 million doses Washington has already pledged to donate by the end of June. $2 billion in funding has also been earmarked for the COVAX program led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the White House said.
GAVI and the WHO welcomed the initiative.
Washington is also taking steps to support local production of COVID-19 vaccines in other countries, including through the Quad initiative with Japan, India and Australia.