US President Joe Biden will buy 500 million Pfizer vaccines for COVID-19 and give them out to other countries. As the US vaccination program winds down, the United States is now focusing some of its efforts on helping other countries get vaccines.
500 Million Pfizer Vaccines
The Pfizer vaccines come at a cost. Specifically, Pfizer said it will sell the doses at not-for-profit prices. According to persons familiar with the plan, the first 200 million doses will go out this year.
Then, the US will distribute the balance of 300 million by the first half of next year. The World Health Organization-backed initiative COVAX will help with the distribution. In particular, low and middle-income countries are the target recipients of the vaccine donation drive.
Biden plans to announce the US vaccine drive this week during the Group of Seven meetings in the United Kingdom. Joining him in the announcement is Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.
The deal to provide free vaccines comes after growing calls for the US and other developed countries to play a bigger role in supplying the world of coronavirus vaccines.
Cheers From Health Experts
Meanwhile, public health experts hailed the US deal to get Pfizer vaccines for other countries. Apart from giving poorer countries access, the move cements US leadership in the drive to vaccinate the entire world.
“It’s an extraordinary development,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
The news “sends a profound signal in terms of US commitment to global health security,” she said. Additionally, it also shows the country’s willingness to help end this pandemic for the world.
One of the issues for discussion during the G7 summit is the gap between available vaccines and the pandemic’s projected to end. “The president is focused on helping to vaccinate the world because he believes it is the right thing to do; it’s what Americans do in times of need,” said Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.
“When we have the capacity, then we have the will, and we step up and we deliver. And he said in his joint session that we were the arsenal of democracy in World War II, and we’re going to be the arsenal of vaccines over the course of the next period to end this pandemic,” he added.
Gap Between Vaccine Haves and Have Nots
On the other hand, the gap between countries with vaccine access to those without is enormous. While the US and the UK have at least half their population vaccinated, 98% of Africa’s population have yet to receive their first dose.
However, closing the gap remains a challenge. Many nations that announced plans to donate surplus vaccines have yet to deliver on the specifics.
Meanwhile, Covax aims to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of the year. Specifically, it aims to vaccinate 20% of the populations of needy countries.
However, the organization is in danger of not meeting its target. Funding shortfalls, a severe shortage of vaccines, and the chaos in India all helped derail its objectives. As of today, COVAX only managed to deliver under 82 million doses to 129 countries.
Watch the CNBC Television video reporting that the Biden administration will buy 500 million Pfizer vaccines for donation:
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