WASHINGTON — An international effort to accelerate the manufacturing and distribution of coronavirus vaccines around the world received a boost on Thursday on two fronts: White House officials said the Biden the administration would keep a U.S. promise to give $4 billion to the campaign over two years, and the pharmaceutical company Novavax pledged to sell 1.1 billion doses of its vaccine.
President Biden will make his announcement on Friday during a virtual meeting with other Group of 7 leaders, where he is also expected to call on other countries to step up their contributions. The $4 billion was approved last year by a Democratic-led House and a Republican-led Senate when President Donald J. Trump was in office.
Public health experts often say that if everyone isn’t vaccinated, it’s like no one is vaccinated. One of the officials, who spoke anonymously to preview the president’s announcement, said it was also in the interest of international security for the United States to contribute to overseas efforts. to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
Countries like India and China are already using the coronavirus vaccine as a diplomatic tool; both give doses to other nations in an effort to expand their global influence. National security experts have said the United States should consider doing the same.
“We could use the vaccine internationally to strengthen our relationships with our allies, to potentially establish positive cooperation with China, to address humanitarian issues in less developed regions of the globe,” said Richard J. Danzig. , who was Secretary of the Navy to President Bill Clinton, said in an interview late last year, lamenting the Trump administration’s indifference to the idea. Such an effort, he said, “could provide us with a very substantial national security advantage.”
the Biden The White House seems to be heading in that direction. After taking office, Mr. Biden directed federal agencies to propose “a framework for the donation of surplus vaccines, once there is a sufficient supply in the United States, to countries in need,” including through the international program.
But, an official said Thursday, the United States will not share vaccines now, as the nationwide vaccination campaign expands.
The administration secured 600 million doses of the two vaccines that have emergency authorization, enough for 300 million Americans. Those doses should be available by the end of the summer, and Mr. Biden said this week that the vaccines would be available to every American by the end of July. If additional vaccines are approved, as is very likely, it would add to the US supply.
the international vaccination effort, known as Covax, was spearheaded by the public-private health partnership known as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as well as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization. It aims to distribute vaccines deemed safe and effective by the WHO, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries.
White House officials said the money would be disbursed in installments: an initial donation of $500 million immediately, followed soon after by an additional $1.5 billion. The remaining $2 billion will be delivered by the end of 2022.
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The president’s commitment to the global fight against the pandemic contrasts sharply with the approach of Mr. Trump, who withdrew from the World Health Organization and disdained foreign aid, pursuing a foreign policy he called “America First”. Mr Biden has joined the World Health Organization immediately after taking office in January.
One of the officials said Mr Biden would call on other nations to make significant pledges to Covax.
So far, the United States has promised more than any other nation, according to the White House; the official said the goal was to leverage the second tranche of $2 billion up to $15 billion — the amount the administration believes is needed to increase the supply of vaccines around the world and for the distribute.
Those responsible for the Covax effort greeted Novavax’s announcement with enthusiasm. Dr Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, said in a statement that the donation would help the campaign “move closer to our goal of delivering two billion doses by 2021”. He said it would also broaden the range of vaccines he could rely on to “build a portfolio suitable for all settings and settings”.