President Joe Biden announced on Monday (17) that the United States will share an additional 20 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine with other countries by the end of June.
The figure comes in addition to the 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca immunizer that the White House had already committed to distribute, totaling 80 million doses sent by Americans abroad.
In a statement, Biden did not specify which countries would receive the vaccines – Brazil has been trying, since March, to get excess doses from Americans – but said the amount distributed represented 13% of all vaccinations produced in the United States. United until the next one. month.
“Today we are taking another step to help the world. We know that the United States will never be completely safe as this pandemic spreads around the world,” the president said. “By the end of June, when we have received enough vaccine to protect everyone in the United States, we will be sharing at least 20 million of those extra doses with other countries.” This means that in the next six weeks, the United States will send 80 million doses. abroad. “
The US government has purchased vaccines to immunize three times the total population of 330 million people and has already administered at least one dose to 60% of the country’s adults – or 47% of the total residents.
With the advance purchase, the White House can decide what to do with the doses, which are in the possession of the federal government.
In his approximately 15-minute speech, Biden said he would work with the Covax Facility consortium, an initiative linked to the WHO (World Health Organization), and other partners to try to ensure an equal split to those who need it, but he did not list which countries might receive the doses.
“We will not use our vaccines to curry favor with other countries. We will work with Covax and other partners to ensure that vaccines are distributed fairly and in accordance with scientific and public health evidence.”
According to the president’s aides, the White House Pandemic Task Force and the National Security Council will discuss the fate of the donations with the State Department.
Under international pressure to share the doses with poor and developing countries, Biden stressed that the measure was the “right and smartest” thing to do, even in the face of the war of vaccine diplomacy between the major powers.
“Suddenly, we are sharing more vaccines than any other country so far. Five times as many as Russia and China, which have donated 15 million doses so far. There is a lot of talk about the influence of the Russia and China in the world of vaccines. We want to lead the world with our values. “
Biden and several governors have encouraged vaccination in the country, including among tourists visiting the United States, because today the amount of vaccine offered exceeds demand in various places.
The president said that on Monday, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the number of Covid-19 cases was declining in all 50 states, but he urged people not to let their guard down.
Biden explained that the new 20 million shared doses will come from waves of the three vaccines that have already been approved for use in the United States: Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson – the first two require two doses for full effectiveness, the last of just one.
Doses of AstraZeneca, on the other hand, must be approved by the FDA, the US agency that regulates drugs, before being sent overseas.
All three vaccines approved in the United States are produced domestically, and the Biden government invoked the Korean War-era Defense Production Act (1950-1953) to give businesses access to needed supplies. vaccine manufacturing and packaging, thereby speeding up the process.
The legislation allows the president to strengthen the production of private companies for goods deemed strategic, such as the vaccine, and had already been used on several occasions by Donald Trump.
The United States donated 4 million doses of AstraZeneca to Mexico and Canada in March, but the number intended for the two neighboring countries was seen as symbolic. After that, at the end of April, there was an announcement that the 60 million doses of the immunizer AstraZeneca had been shared in inventory, without authorization for use granted by the FDA.
Now, with vaccination accelerating in the country and a promise to return to normal in July, Biden wants to take a step forward in leading vaccine diplomacy, a space that has so far been occupied. by its main geopolitical rivals, China and Russia.