Behind China in vaccine donations and under pressure to help poorer countries, the United States has yet to define where the 80 million doses of vaccine Joe Biden has pledged to distribute overseas will go to. ‘at the end of June.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Gayle Smith, the US State Department’s Global Covid Response Coordinator, said the government had not made a final decision on the fate of vaccines and said it could not develop a detailed plan on the allocation doses.
“We’re looking at all regions, given vaccine supply limitations literally everywhere, and we haven’t made any final decisions yet,” Smith said. “I can’t say at this point what the allowance will be [das doses distribuídas] by country. “
In a statement on Monday (7), Biden said he would send an additional 20 million doses of vaccine overseas by the end of next month, in addition to the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca he had already committed to distribute to other countries of the same period.
The Democrat wants to lead vaccine diplomacy, now led by China, which has already shared 252 million doses with other countries, or 42% of its total production. By way of comparison, the 80 million doses promised by the USA represent 13% of local production. The European Union, for its part, has already exported 111 million doses, and Russia, 27 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The US government has purchased enough vaccine to immunize the entire population three times, applied at least one dose to 60% of the country’s adults, and has been criticized for prioritizing internal vaccination, even with excessive doses, so that different regions of the world are suffering from increase. in cases, deaths and new variants, as is the case in Brazil and India.
Smith set the tone for the international race on Wednesday. Said “80 million [de doses] this is the beginning “and that, with the help of other partners, the United States can expand its assistance abroad.” We can do a lot, we can be ahead, we can do as much as possible, but we cannot do it alone. . “
According to the White House, the 20 million new doses would fall outside the scope of the three immunizers already approved for use in the United States – Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen – while AstraZeneca’s 60 million still need approval from the FDA, the US regulatory agency, before they are shared.
Since March, the Brazilian government – through the Embassy in Washington and the Department of Foreign Affairs – has been asking to receive excess doses of vaccines from the United States. Until early this week, U.S. officials had not given an affirmative response to sending vaccines to Brazil, despite signaling to the Brazilian government that the country was one of Biden’s intended destinations.
Le Plateau only approached the White House after the American press announced that Biden was considering giving doses, and after other countries had already made the same request, such as Mexico. The US Embassy in Brazil says it is “aware of the Brazilian demand” and that the US government would have “more to say about how we distribute the vaccines in the coming weeks.”
In this Monday’s interview, Smith followed the same scenario. Asked about Brazil’s specific request, she said she had heard requests “from all parts of the world, given the demand for vaccines everywhere.” “I’ll stop there,” he finished.
Smith echoed Biden’s speech that vaccines are a public health tool to contain the pandemic around the world and that the distribution of doses by Americans will not be used to pressure or influence other countries. “Our decisions will be made on the basis of public health data and collaboration with key partners, including Covax,” he said, referring to the Covax Facility consortium, a WHO-related initiative for the distribution of doses to developing countries.
She also said she was aware of what she called the “acute need” of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and had spoken to several representatives from the region, without specifying which ones. The United States had already donated 4 million doses of AstraZeneca to Mexico and Canada in March, but the number intended for neighboring countries was seen as symbolic. At the end of April, it was announced that the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca were being shared, which were in stock without authorization for use by the FDA.
Now, with the acceleration of vaccination in the country and the promise of a return to normal in July, Biden wants to take a step towards leadership in vaccine diplomacy, a space which, so far, is occupied by its main geopolitical rivals, China and Russia.