US will distribute 500M Pfizer vaccine doses to 100 countries
The United States is buying 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to donate them among nearly 100 countries by the next year, top American newspapers have reported. The move comes after President Joe Biden faced intense pressure to address the global vaccine shortage even as more than 40% of the American population has been fully vaccinated.
200 million doses to be sent out this year
The US is expected to buy the vaccines at cost price, according to sources cited by The New York Times. The first 200 million doses will be distributed by the end of this year, while the remaining 300 million will be sent out by next June, the sources added. The doses will be distributed through COVAX, an international vaccine initiative backed by the WHO.
Vaccines to reach 92 countries and the African Union
The donations would go to some 92 lower-income nations and the African Union, The Guardian reported. The American President is likely to make the announcement on Thursday as he has reached Europe for a week-long trip to attend the NATO and Group of 7 summits. It is expected he will also encourage leaders of other countries to step up their vaccine distribution efforts.
'We have to end COVID-19, everywhere'
"We have to end COVID-19, not just at home, which we're doing, but everywhere," President Biden told American troops after landing in Suffolk, England. "There's no wall high enough to keep us safe from this pandemic or the next biological threat we face, and there will be others. It requires coordinated multilateral action," he said, according to NYT.
US had already planned to share 80M doses
The Biden administration had already planned to share at least 80 million vaccine doses with the world by the end of this month. An initial delivery of 25 million doses was recently announced, of which 75% or 19 million would be distributed through the COVAX program and the remaining six million would be given to India and other countries facing new outbreaks.
A stark gap between vaccination in West and poor countries
There remains a stark difference between COVID-19 vaccination efforts in developed countries and poorer ones. Even as over 40% people in the US and Britain are fully vaccinated, many African countries have fully vaccinated less than 1% of their populations. In India, which faced the world's worst coronavirus outbreak this year, just above 3% of the population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.