The White House announced Thursday that US President Joe Biden plans to allocate 75 percent of unused COVID-19 vaccines through the United Nations-backed global COVAX Vaccine Sharing Program.
The White House revealed an allotment to share the first 25 million doses with the world. The United States said it plans to share 80 million doses of vaccine globally by the end of June. The administration says 25 percent of the reserve will be held for emergencies and for the United States to engage directly with allies and partners.
“As long as this pandemic continues anywhere in the world, the American people will remain at risk,” Biden said in a statement. “And the United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to the international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.”
Of the first batch of 25 million doses, the White House says about 19 million will go to COVAX, about six million to South and Central America, seven million to Asia and five million to Africa. The doses represent a major — and immediate — boost to the delayed COVAX effort, which has so far only shared 76 million doses with countries in need.
The remaining six million will be directed by the White House to US allies and partners, including Canada, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, the West Bank, Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Haiti, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Yemen, as well as as frontline workers at the United Nations.
Dozens of countries have requested doses from the United States. To date, Mexico and Canada have received 4.5 million doses combined, with the United States lending Canada 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford in March. The US also announced plans to share enough rounds with South Korea to inoculate the 550,000 soldiers serving alongside US service members on the peninsula.
The United States’ growing stockpile of COVID-19 vaccines is seen not only as a testament to American ingenuity, but also to its excellence. The long-awaited vaccine-sharing plan comes as demand for injections wanes in the United States, and as global supply disparities grow.
Watch from May: The United States shares 80 million doses of vaccine:
More than 50 percent of eligible Americans received a single dose of the vaccine, while about 41 percent were fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The United States has largely used the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, although about 11 million have been fully vaccinated with the single-shot Johnson & Johnson/Janssen product.
Some have criticized the administration for the delay in announcing the plans, with Biden first hinting that the United States would share vaccines in March, before announcing the 80 million figure in May. Some vaccines expire as soon as the end of June, Politico reported.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken promised earlier this week that the United States would work hand in hand with COVAX and “distribute vaccines without political requirements to those who receive them.”
AstraZeneca doses are released
The president also promised to share 20 million doses of current stockpiles of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. More doses are expected to be available for participation in the coming months.
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As part of purchase agreements with drug manufacturers, the United States controlled the primary production of its domestic manufacturers. Only now Pfizer and Moderna have begun exporting vaccines produced in the United States to customers abroad. The United States has hundreds of millions of additional doses on demand, both from approved and still in development vaccines.
The White House also announced Thursday that it is lifting restrictions on sharing vaccines produced by AstraZeneca, as well as Sanofi and Novavax, which are also not authorized in the United States, allowing companies to decide where to share their doses.
Biden has committed to providing other countries with all 60 million domestically produced doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This vaccine has not yet been authorized for use in the United States, but it has been widely approved worldwide. US-produced doses will be available for shipment once a safety review is completed by the Food and Drug Administration.
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