Biden doubles US global donation of COVID vaccine
President Joe Biden says the U.S. is doubling its purchase of Pfizer’s COVID-19 shots to share with the world.
At a virtual "vaccine summit" on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Biden embraced a goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population within the next year and encouraged well-off nations to do more to get the coronavirus under control around the world.
World leaders, aid groups and global health organizations are growing increasingly vocal about the slow pace of global vaccinations and the inequity of access to shots between residents of wealthier and poorer nations.
The U.S. purchase of another 500 million shots brings the total U.S. vaccination commitment to more than 1.1 billion doses through 2022. About 160 million shots supplied by the U.S. have already been distributed to more than 100 countries, representing more donations than the rest of the world combined.
"To beat the pandemic here, we need to beat it everywhere," Biden said. He added that with the new commitments, "For every one shot we’ve administered to date in America, we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world."
The latest purchase reflects only a fraction of what will be necessary to meet a goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population — and 70% of the citizens of each nation — by next September’s U.N. meeting. It’s a target pushed by global aid groups that Biden threw his weight behind.
Biden is pressing other countries to do more in their vaccine sharing plans.
"We need other high income countries to deliver on their own ambitious vaccine donations and pledges," Biden said. He called on wealthy countries to commit to donating, rather than selling the shots to poorer nations, and to provide them "with no political strings attached."
Biden said the U.S. would also increase its funding to global aid groups that are administering shots.
The American response has come under criticism for being too modest, particularly as the administration advocates for providing booster shots to tens of millions of Americans before vulnerable people in poorer nations have received even a first dose.