BREAKING – United States Unveils Global Vaccine Sharing Scheme for 80 Million Doses by End June
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki at briefing Thursday on the US COVID vaccine- sharing plans

United States President Joe Biden on Thusday unveiled a detailed strategy for sharing 80 million surplus US COVID-19 vaccine doses with other countries in need by the end of June.

A detailed allocation plan for the first 25 million of those vaccine doses calls for sharing 75%  through the WHO-cosponsored COVAX global vaccine facility – while some 25% of doses would be shared bilaterally “for immediate needs and to help with surges around the world.”

The latter group of countries, receiving some six million doses, would include Canada, Mexico, the Republic of Korea and COVID-struck India, as well as the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Hamas-controlled Gaza, according to a detailed statement published this afternoon by The White House.

“Twenty-five million doses will be going out as soon as we can logistically get them out the door,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, in a briefing on the strategy shortly after the announcement.  She called it a “historic, herculean effort, to get these doses to all of the communities and countries that we committed them to” – before their expiry dates.

She said that all doses being shared would be drawn from US FDA approved stocks – meaning either vaccines produced by Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine – although she provided no details on the exact mix.

US Allies & Countries Embroiled In Regional Conflicts Also Get Some Vaccine Doses

A more detailed fact sheet  also noted that some of the six milion doses to be shared directly would go to a shortlist of countries embroiled in, or bordering on regional conflict zones or natural disaster areas, including: ” West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Haiti, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Yemen, as well as for United Nations frontline workers.”

Although 19 million doses would be shared with COVAX – in line with recent White House pledges to support the global vaccine sharing plan – Biden’s statement also earmarked specifically where it wants COVAX to distribute those doses. The designations follow in line with a trend whereby donor countries have been sharing spare doses with the COVAX facility – while also prioritizing regional neighbours or allies.

In the case of the US COVAX donations, the detailed rundown of priorities include:

  • Approximately 6 million for South and Central America to the following countries: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, as well as the Dominican Republic.
  • Approximately 7 million for Asia to the following countries and entities:  India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, and the Pacific Islands.
  • Approximately 5 million for Africa to be shared with countries that will be selected in coordination with the African Union.

White House Denies Geopolitical Considerations In Vaccine Priorties

Even so,  a White House statement denied that geopolitical considerations had played a role in its prioritization, with the caveat that, “We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic…”

Rather, the statements said that the priortization of doses was meant to favour “countries in urgent need” as well as countries with “vaccine readiness plans that prioritize individuals at highest risk of severe disease and those working to help care for them, like health care workers.”

While not a new commitment, the detailed plan follows upon a pledge made by Biden in May to “share 80 million doses of our vaccine supply with the world.”

The Biden announcement also follows on the heels of a major COVAX donor event on Monday, that raised US $2.4 billion more for the facility, as well as new announcements from Belgium, Denmark, Japan, Spain and Sweden to share a total of 54 million vaccines.

In it, the President also reaffirmed US commitments to funding for COVAX  as well as US support for a temporary waiver on intellectual property associated with COVID vaccine manufacture:

“Already the United States has committed $4 billion to support COVAX, and we have launched partnerships to boost global capacity to manufacture more vaccines,” said the statement. “My administration supports efforts to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines because, over time, we need more companies producing life-saving doses of proven vaccines that are shared equitably….

Other measures being pursued include: “working with U.S. manufacturers to increase vaccine production for the rest of the world, and helping more countries expand their own capacity to produce vaccines including through support for global supply chains.

“This vaccine strategy is a vital component of our overall global strategy to lead the world in the fight to defeat COVID-19, including emergency public health assistance and aid to stop the spread and building global public health capacity and readiness to beat not just this pandemic, but the next one.

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

Image Credits: C-Span.

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