ST IVES, England, June 10 - U.S. President Joe Biden will announce plans to donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer Coronavirus vaccine to more than 90 countries on Thursday, while calling on the world's democratic democracies to do their part to end the deadly pandemic, said the White House.
Biden will announce the vaccine donation - the largest ever by one country - ahead of his meeting with leaders of the other Group of Seven advanced economies - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan - Cornwall, England.
On Wednesday the Democratic President arrived in England for his first overseas trip since taking office. The eight-day mission aims to reframe transatlantic ties and build relations with Russia after four rocky years of tariffs and withdrawal from contracts under Republican former president Donald Trump.
The goal of today’s donation is to end lives and save the pandemic and will provide the basis for additional actions to be announced in the coming days, the White House said. No further details about the pending announcements were provided.
The donation, as originally reported on Wednesday, was negotiated over the past four weeks by the White House COVID 19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients and the Coronavirus Taskforce team, a source familiar with the matter said.
It is intended to supervise the global fight against the pandemic, claims the White House.
The pandemic has killed approximately 3.9 million people around the world, with the infection identified in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were reported in China in December 2019.
The new donations come on top of the 80 million doses that Washington pledged to donate by the end of June and $2 billion in funding earmarked for the COVAX program led by the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, said the White House.
They will be part of the United States Government's $4 billion commitment to COVAX earlier this year, a White House official said.
Washington is also taking steps to support the establishment of COVID 19 vaccines in other countries, including through its Quad initiative with Japan, India and Australia.
President Biden has vowed that borders will stop this pandemic from happening and has been clear that the White House will be the military arsenal of vaccines in our country, said Biden.
The United States donation will go through the COVAX program to 92 low and lower middle countries and the African Union, with 200 million doses to be delivered by the end of the year and the rest in the first half of 2022. The shipping began in August, the White House said.
Pfizer plans to produce half a billion doses at its facilities in Andover, Massachusetts; McPherson, Kansas; Chesterfield, Missouri and Kalamazoo, Michigan, the White House said Tuesday.
CNBC reported on Wednesday that Moderna Inc. is also talking with the United States about buying some of their shots to donate to other countries.
A Moderna spokesperson said the company is interested in providing the U.S. government with COVID 19 shots for poor and middle-income countries, but declined to comment on any discussions.
Biden's announcement comes amid mounting pressure for the United States which has now given at least one shot to around 64% of its adult population in order to promote donations of COVID 19 shots to other countries that are desperately seeking doses.
Top officials at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank warned that huge disparities in vaccination rates could prolong the pandemic, a global economic recovery and increase the risk that more vaccine-resistant variants will emerge. Vaccinations rates are in the single digits in many poorer countries.
The administration has also used the U.S. vaccine supply as a tool to counter Russian and Chinese vaccine diplomacy, although U.S. officials have been adamant that the US donations will not require any favors or concessions.
Pfizer has said it expects to produce as many as 3 billion COVID 19 shots in 2021 and upwards of 4 billion next year. Have a look at our social media account?