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US to send additional 500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to foreign nations in 2022

<i>NORBERTO DUARTE/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>Boxes containing some of the one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 donated by the United States
AFP via Getty Images
Boxes containing some of the one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 donated by the United States

By Jason Hoffman and Kate Sullivan, CNN

The United States is set to significantly increase the amount of Covid-19 vaccines it will ship to foreign nations beginning in 2022 in an effort to end the pandemic worldwide, President Joe Biden announced Wednesday.

As part of a virtual Covid-19 summit on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Biden announced that the US is purchasing an additional 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines to donate to low- and lower-middle-income countries around the world, a senior administration official said, previewing the summit. The newly announced 500 million doses are on top of the 500 million the US had already committed to sharing with other nations.

Those vaccines will begin shipping out in January, and from January through September of next year, the US will ship out 800 million vaccines to the world, the official said. These vaccines bring the United States total to over 1.1 billion vaccines donated to other countries.

“We also know that to beat the pandemic here, we need to beat it everywhere. And I made — and I’m keeping — the promise that America will become the arsenal of vaccines as we were the arsenal of democracy during World War II,” Biden said at the summit.

The vaccines will be distributed through Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, the global vaccination program known as COVAX. The President noted the US has already shipped more than 160 million Covid-19 doses to 100 countries, which is more than every other country has donated combined.

“To put it another way: For every one shot we’ve administered today in America, we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world,” Biden said at the summit.

The President called on other nations to fulfill and increase their vaccine donation pledges to help put an end to the pandemic, and announced a partnership between the US and European Union to expand global Covid-19 vaccinations.

The push comes as the Biden administration prepares to offer booster shots to many vaccinated Americans this fall. The executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, Mike Ryan, has criticized the move, arguing vaccines need to be prioritized to those who haven’t had any Covid-19 shots yet.

White House officials have pushed back on the criticism and said they can provide booster shots while also continuing its efforts to help vaccinate the rest of the world. Officials like White House Covid-19 response director Jeff Zients and US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy have stressed the importance of doing both at the same time in order to end the global pandemic.

Biden said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken would be convening foreign ministers later this year to check on the global vaccination progress. The President also proposed a second high-level virtual summit in the first quarter of 2022 “to help gauge our progress and keep our efforts fully alive.”

Following the summit, the White House released a statement on the US-European Union vaccine partnership that reads: “It is vital that we aggressively pursue an agenda to vaccinate the world. Coordinated U.S. and EU leadership will help expand supply, deliver in a more coordinated and efficient manner, and manage constraints to supply chains.”

“This will showcase the force of a Transatlantic partnership in facilitating global vaccination while enabling more progress by multilateral and regional initiatives,” the statement continues.

The summit will consist of heads of state, leaders from international organizations, the private sector, philanthropies, nongovernmental organizations and other partners from around the world, according to an administration official, who said there are more than 100 countries and 100 organizations participating. The summit will contain four distinct sessions and is expected to last more than four hours with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both chairing a session.

Biden called on world leaders in all sectors to focus on specific areas in order to help end the pandemic, including vaccinating the world in an equitable and efficient manner and saving lives now by working to solve the global oxygen crisis and making tests and therapeutics more available.

The White House sent those participating in the summit a list of “deliberately ambitious” goals and targets to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare the world for future pandemics.

These goals include supporting the WHO’s goal of getting at least 70% of the population fully vaccinated in every country by the United Nations General Assembly in 2022, endorsing the G20 target of supporting at least 40% of the global population by the end of 2021 and increasing capacity to manufacture doses over the medium and long-term.

“These targets and associated actions are ambitious — but they are what we need to get on course for ending this pandemic and with it, the risk it imposes on our countries, communities, health and livelihoods,” the White House said in a news release.

The US is asking governments and international institutions with relevant capacities to close the financing and supply gap for low-income countries and low middle-income countries to reach 70% coverage, accelerate vaccinations in these countries in 2021 by expediting the delivery of the doses and making available at least $3 billion in 2021 and $7 billion in 2022 in financing for these countries for vaccine readiness.

It is also asking these governments and institutions to support sufficient global and regional production of vaccines and calling for the establishment of a “robust vaccine, consumables, and ancillary supplies global dashboard in 2021.”

The US is also asking governments and international institutions to provide $2 billion to increase the availability of bulk liquid oxygen in low- and low middle-income countries, finance at least 1 billion Covid-19 tests for these countries, donate and deliver $1 billion in Covid-19 therapeutics, increase the manufacturing of personal protective equipment and enhance global variant tracking and analysis capabilities.

The US called on the private sector to design and finance a $2 billion global strategy to support oxygen ecosystems, including the provision of bulk liquid oxygen and other support for inpatient facilities in all countries by the end of 2022. The US is also asking companies in the private sector to enhance production of tests and make testing kits available in low- and middle-income countries for no more than $1 per antigen kit and expand production of therapeutics, among other targets.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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