Biden unveils plan to share first 25 mn COVID-19 vaccines

75% of unused doses will be distributed through COVAX

President Joe Biden plans to allocate 75% of unused COVID-19 vaccines through the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing programme, the White House announced on Thursday.

The White House unveiled the allocation for sharing the first 25 million doses with the world. The U.S. has said it plans to share 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of June. The administration said 25% will be kept in reserve for emergencies and for the U.S. to share directly with allies and partners.

“As long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “And the United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.”

Of the first tranche of 25 million doses, the White House says about 19 million will go to COVAX, with approximately 6 million for South and Central America, 7 million for Asia, and 5 million for Africa. The doses mark a substantial — and immediate — boost to the lagging COVAX effort, which to date has shared just 76 million doses with needy countries.

The remaining 6 million will be directed to U.S. allies and partners, including Mexico, Canada, India, and the Republic of Korea, West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Haiti, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Yemen, as well as for UN frontline workers.

Domestic demand drops

The growing U.S. stockpile of COVID-19 vaccines is seen not only as a testament to American ingenuity, but also its global privilege. The long-awaited vaccine sharing plan comes as demand for shots in the U.S. has dropped significantly as more than 63% of adults have received at least one dose, and as global inequities in supply have become more glaring.

Scores of countries have requested doses from the U.S., but to date only Mexico and Canada have received a combined 4.5 million doses. The U.S. also has announced plans to share enough shots with South Korea to vaccinate its 5,50,000 troops, who serve alongside American service members on the peninsula.

Mr. Biden has committed to providing other nations with all 60 million domestically produced doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The President also has promised to share 20 million doses from existing production of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine stocks. Even more doses are expected to be made available to be shared in the months ahead.

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