Biden Administration to Send 25 Million Doses of U.S. Vaccines Abroad

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Biden Administration to Send 25 Million Doses of U.S. Vaccines Abroad” – below is their description.

    The U.S. government will send 25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to foreign countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, the first time President Joe Biden’s administration has shared shots it could have used at home.

    Through the World Health Organization-backed Covax program, the U.S. plans to distribute 6 million shots to Central and South America, 7 million to Asia including hard-hit India and 5 million to Africa, the White House said in a statement.

    The U.S. will directly send another 6 million shots to places including Mexico, Canada, South Korea and the Palestinian territories, the White House said. Overall, the White House plans to send 75% of its total donated doses to the Covax program.

    “As the days get brighter and brighter at home, we’re focused on driving progress to help the pandemic around the globe,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said at a briefing Thursday.

    The move is a watershed moment for the U.S., which secured the first hundreds of millions of doses made on its soil for domestic use but intends to be an engine of vaccine production globally. As vaccine demand wanes at home, Biden is facing calls internationally to release the American stockpile of shots made by Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson in order to curb the rise of coronavirus variants against which existing vaccines might provide less protection.

    Zients said the 25 million vaccines to be released first will be comprised of shots from Pfizer, Moderna and J&J.

    The Covax donations will go to dozens of countries across Central America, South America, Asia and Africa including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brazil and Argentina, along with India.

    Recipients of the six million doses sent directly also will include Ukraine, Kosovo, Haiti, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, according to the White House. The U.S. will retain control of where the shots donated to Covax are ultimately distributed, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in the briefing.

    The so-called Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras will receive Covax doses, while Mexico will receive doses directly from the U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the region next week and called the leaders of Mexico, Guatemala and India about the vaccine distribution plan before Thursday’s announcement, her office said.

    Administration officials have consulted with vaccine manufacturers and international organizations on aspects of the operation, including transportation logistics and legal requirements, one person familiar with the plans said.

    Thursday’s announcement included a framework to distribute shots among countries based on need. Biden has said his administration will donate 80 million doses by the end of this month, including 60 million that aren’t yet available for use.

    Nonetheless, the move is a sign of a cresting wave of American vaccine production poised to meet world demand. The gap between U.S. doses delivered and actually administered has risen to 70 million — much of which are in various stages of distribution. But the figure is an indication of the U.S. glut Biden has to work with.

    Another 60 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine remains on U.S. shelves, despite Biden’s repeated promises to export them. That shot has not been authorized for U.S. use and is still under review by the Food and Drug Administration.

    In addition to the Biden administration’s plans to begin sharing doses it bought, Pfizer and Moderna have both begun filling international orders from U.S. plants that previously supplied only the U.S. government.

    Harris is set to meet with the leaders of Mexico and Guatemala next week on a trip through the region. Mexico and other countries have publicly asked the U.S. to share its vaccines, and some European allies had criticized Biden for hoarding U.S. production.

    Next week, the president will leave for his first international trip, a series of stops in Europe including meetings of the Group of 7 nations, NATO and the European Union. A summit in Geneva with Russian President Vladimir Putin is also planned.

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