Biden boosting world vaccine-sharing commitment to 80m doses

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) — President Joe Biden said yesterday that the US will share an additional 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with the world in the coming six weeks.

The doses would come from the existing US production of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine stocks. It would mark the first time that US-controlled doses of vaccines authorised for use in the country will be shared overseas, as domestic demand for the shots has dropped significantly in recent weeks.

“We know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic that’s raging globally is under control,” Biden said at the White House.

The announcement comes on top of the Biden’s Administration’s prior commitment to share about 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorised for use in the US, by the end of June. The AstraZeneca doses will be available to ship once they clear a safety review by the Food and Drug Administration.

Biden is also tapping COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients to lead the Administration’s efforts to share doses with the world. The Biden Administration has yet to announce how they will be shared or which countries will receive them.

“Our nation’s going to be the arsenal of vaccines for the rest of the world,” Biden said. He added that, compared to other countries like Russia and China that have sought to leverage their domestically produced doses, “we will not use our vaccines to secure favours from other countries”.

To date, the US has shared about 4.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine with Canada and Mexico. Additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine manufactured in the US have begun to be exported as the company has met its initial contract commitments to the federal government.

The US has faced growing pressure to share more of its vaccine stockpile with the world as interest in vaccines has waned domestically.

More than 157 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 123 million are fully vaccinated against the virus. Biden hopes the US will have 160 million people fully vaccinated by July fourth. The US has seen the largest confirmed loss of lives from COVID-19, at more than 586,000 people.

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