Covid19 – US to buy 500 million Pfizer vaccines to donate globally via COVAX
The US will buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to share through the global COVAX alliance for donation to 92 lower income countries and the African Union over the next year, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday. Two hundred million doses enough to fully protect 100 million people would be shared this year, with the balance to be donated in the first half of 2022, according to sources.
The announcement comes a week after the White House unveiled its plans to donate an initial allotment of 25 million doses of surplus vaccine overseas, mostly through the United Nations-backed COVAX program, promising infusions for South and Central America, Asia, Africa and others at a time of glaring shortages abroad.
Overall, the White House has announced plans to share 80 million doses globally by the end of June, most through COVAX. Officials say a quarter of the nation’s excess will be kept in reserve for emergencies and for the US to share directly with allies and partners. The White House has also directed doses to allies including South Korea, Taiwan and Ukraine.
The United States itself has fully vaccinated more than half its entire population, and the infection rate has plummeted. Biden hinted at the announcement before boarding Air Force One bound for Britain to meet with leaders with the Group of 7 nations. Asked if he had a vaccine strategy for the world, he said: “I have one and I’ll be announcing it.”
Biden last month broke with European allies to endorse waiving intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organization to promote vaccine production and equity. But many in his own administration acknowledge that the restrictions were not the driving cause of the global vaccine shortage, which has more to do with limited manufacturing capacity and shortages of delicate raw materials.