The Biden administration is sharing 55 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine globally by the end of the month with Latin American, Caribbean, Asian and African countries, the White House announced Monday.
The administration pledged to share America’s vaccine supply with countries around the globe, calling the strategy “a vital component” of the overall global effort “to lead the world in the fight to defeat COVID-19 and to achieve global health security.”
On Monday, the White House said the U.S. would share 75% of the vaccine doses through COVAX, the U.N.-backed global vaccine sharing program, and said 25% of the vaccines would be targeted to help deal with surges of the novel coronavirus around the world.
“Our goals are to increase global COVID-19 vaccination coverage, prepare for surges and prioritize healthcare workers and other vulnerable populations based on public health data and acknowledged best practice, and help our neighbors and other countries in need,” the White House said.
“And, as we have previously stated, the United States will not use its vaccines to secure favors from other countries,” the White House maintained.
According to the White House, approximately 41 million vaccine doses will be shared through COVAX, with 14 million going to countries like Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti and other Caribbean Community countries, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Costa Rica.
A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, at the city hall in Quezon city, Philippines on Monday, June 21, 2021. The Philippine government has signed a purchase deal for 40 million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the largest such agreement it has managed to negotiate this year after huge demands from wealthy countries started to ease. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Sixteen million doses are expected to be shared with countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Cambodia and the Pacific Islands. Ten million doses are expected to be shared with Africa.
The White House said that approximately 14 million would be shared with regional priorities and other recipients, including South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Cabo Verde, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia, Oman, West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Georgia, Moldova and Bosnia.
“Sharing millions of U.S. vaccines with other countries signals a major commitment by the U.S. Government,” the White House said Monday, noting that it will “move as expeditiously as possible, while abiding by U.S. and host country regulatory and legal requirements, to facilitate the safe and secure transport of vaccines across international borders.”
“This will take time, but the President has directed the Administration to use all the levers of the U.S. government to protect individuals from this virus as quickly as possible,” the White House said. “The specific vaccines and amounts will be determined and shared as the administration works through the logistical, regulatory and other parameters particular to each region and country.”
The announcement comes after President Biden, earlier this month, announced it would donate 75% of its unused COVID-19 vaccines to the global vaccine-sharing program.
Of the first tranche of 25 million doses, the White House says about 19 million will go to COVAX, with approximately 6 million for South and Central America, 7 million for Asia, and 5 million for Africa. The doses mark a substantial — and immediate — boost to the lagging COVAX effort, which to date has shared just 76 million doses with needy countries.
Biden has committed to providing other nations with all 60 million domestically produced doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. That vaccine has yet to be authorized for use in the U.S. but is widely approved around the world. The U.S.-produced doses will be available to ship as soon as they clear a safety review by the Food and Drug Administration.
Meanwhile, the president, last week said that 65% of American adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot, saying his administration turned the pandemic around by acting “quickly, aggressively, and equitably.”
The president touted the 300 million COVID-19 vaccines administered to Americans in less than 150 days.
“Thanks to this wartime response, we’ve gotten 300 million shots in the arms of Americans in 150 days–months ahead of what anyone thought was possible when we started,” Biden said, noting that “people were skeptical” over whether they would be able to reach 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office.
“We did it, and we kept going,” he said.
The president, though, said that while the U.S. is making “incredible progress,” the threat of COVID-19 is still “serious and deadly,” referring to the Delta variant of COVID-19, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated last week as a “variant of concern.”
“If you are unvaccinated, you are at risk of being seriously ill or dying or spreading it,” Biden said. “People getting seriously ill, being hospitalized due to COVID-19 are those who have not been fully vaccinated.”
The president said, “The new variant will leave unvaccinated people even more vulnerable than they were a month ago.”
Biden explained that experts said the Delta variant is “more easily transmissable” and “deadlier and particularly dangerous for young people.”
“But the good news is, we have the solution,” he said. “The science and the data are clear–the best way to protect yourself against these variants are to get fully vaccinated.”
The president went on to urge half-vaccinated Americans to get their second shot “as soon as you can.”
The CDC last week labeled the Delta variant one of “concern” – a change officials told Fox News was based on “mounting evidence” that the variant spreads more easily and causes more severe cases when compared to other variants.
Biden administration officials told Fox News they are studying the effectiveness of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine and “remain optimistic,” as overseas, the AstraZeneca vaccine has demonstrated effectiveness against Delta. An official told Fox News the AstraZeneca vaccine is “built on a similar platform as Johnson & Johnson.”
The official told Fox News vaccinated people have a “high degree of protection” but warned that those who are not vaccinated “are at risk.””
The CDC’s classifications define three classes of variants of COVID-19 – variants of interest, variants of concern and variants of high consequence.
According to the CDC, a variant’s classification status can change as officials learn more about them.
“CDC and SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group continually review the available scientific evidence and the genomic surveillance data to assess the classification of variants,” the CDC said.
According to the CDC, “variants of concern” may require several public health actions, like notifying the World Health Organization under International Health Regulations; reporting to CDC, local or regional efforts to control the spread; increased testin, or research to determine the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments against the variant.
“Based on the characteristics of the variant, additional considerations may include the development of new diagnostics or the modification of vaccines or treatments,” the CDC said, adding that “investigations are underway to further characterize this variant of concern and its potential effect on current vaccines and treatments.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.