The United States will buy 500 million more doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to give away to poor countries around the world — more than doubling the original commitment to defeat the deadly coronavirus, President Biden said Wednesday.
“To beat the pandemic here, we need to beat it everywhere,” Biden said at the White House during a virtual summit with global leaders.
Biden didn’t detail the cost to American taxpayers but said the purchase would nearly double the number of shots that the US has pledged to pay for internationally.
“We’ve already shipped nearly 160 million doses to 100 countries, more than every other country has donated,” he said.
“This is another half a billion doses that will all be shipped by this time next year and it brings our total commitment to donated vaccines to over 1.1 billion vaccines to be donated.”
He added: “Put another way, for every one shot we’ve administered today in America, we are now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world.”
Biden also called his plan a “historic commitment” and compared it to the American military effort to defeat fascism in the 20th century.
“I’m keeping the promise that America will become the arsenal of vaccines as we were the arsenal for democracy during World War II,” he said.
Biden also called on other wealthy countries to donate vaccines “with no political strings attached.”
His 500 million-dose pledge was matched by the European Union, which increased an earlier promise.
The American vaccines will be distributed by the COVAX global vaccine agency and Biden said the US would also increase its funding to aid groups that give the shots.
More than 5.9 billion doses have been administered to about 43 percent of the world’s population, but some of the poorest countries have yet to achieve vaccination rates higher than 2 or 3 percent and COVAX has missed nearly all of its distribution targets.
On Tuesday, Colombian President Ivan Duque bitterly denounced the situation during a speech at the UN General Assembly in Manhattan.
“We have observed failures of multilateralism to respond in an equitable, coordinated way to the most acute moments,” he said.
“The existing gaps between nations with regard to the vaccination process are unheard of.”
Chilean President Sebastian Piñera also said the “triumph” of developing COVID-19 vaccines in record time had been tarnished by the “failure” to distribute them evenly.
“In science, cooperation prevailed; in politics, individualism. In science, shared information reigned; in politics, reserve. In science, teamwork predominated; in politics, isolated effort,” he said.
With Post wires