As more than 72% of U.S. adults have had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, the U.S. has begun shipping doses to poorer countries, where current lack of vaccine access and poor healthcare could potentially result in new Covid strains and prolong the global pandemic.
White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz tweeted on Tuesday that the US would ship 488,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Rwanda.
That number includes the first 100,000 doses of the 500 million President Biden pledged to share with other countries at a G7 meeting earlier this summer, with the remainder of the doses coming from surplus U.S. government supplies, Bloomberg reported.
The Pfizer doses will be shipped through COVAX, the World Health Organization’s vaccine sharing program.
The announcement comes several weeks after the U.S. shipped nearly 10 million COVID vaccine doses to Nigeria and South Africa, Reuters reported, part of an effort to distribute more vaccines across sub-Saharan Africa and other regions of the world including Asia and South America
584. That’s how many average new daily Covid infections are being reported in Rwanda, according to Reuters’ Covid-19 tracker. The current level represents about 42% of the country’s peak daily infections, which were reported on July 22.
As fears sprung up in March about a potential “vaccine apartheid,” Biden has faced increased pressure to send vaccine doses to developing countries. Currently, less than 2% of Africa’s 1.3 billion population has been vaccinated. The U.S. has now sent 18.4 million doses to 24 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, but some worry it is not happening fast enough. “There is no other word for it but a betrayal of trust,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in an email to the Washington Post in late July, adding that many lives wouldn’t have been lost, if “the wealthiest countries allowed poorer countries to access their fair share of vaccines.”
What To Watch For
Further announcements about where President Biden plans to send the remainder of the 500 million vaccine doses he pledged earlier this summer.