Biden Will Reportedly Buy—And Donate To Other Countries—Millions More Covid Vaccine Doses
The United States plans to buy hundreds of millions of extra doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for other countries, the Washington Post reported Friday, as some nations struggle with lagging vaccination rates and a global initiative to supply vaccines to poorer countries faces shortages.
The Biden administration is planning to announce these additional vaccine purchases at some point next week, coinciding with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly’s regular session Tuesday, according to the Post, which cited two unnamed sources.
It’s unclear how these vaccine doses will be distributed, but the Biden administration has designated earlier rounds of donated vaccines to COVAX, a World Health Organization-backed initiative to offer coronavirus vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, and offered some supplies to countries dealing with severe Covid-19 surges.
Pfizer spokesperson Amy Rose didn’t confirm these purchases to Forbes, but said the company is “firmly committed to doing all we can to ensure equitable and affordable access to our COVID-19 vaccines,” and is working with governments to that end.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
What We Don’t Know
It’s not clear when Pfizer will deliver these doses. Governments around the world have ordered billions of vaccine doses from the company, and some orders are slated for delivery in 2022 or beyond.
5.85 billion. That’s how many coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered worldwide since last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Vaccination rates vary widely by country: More than 60% of people in the United States and the European Union are at least partially vaccinated against Covid-19, but some sub-Saharan African countries are lagging below 5%.
A disproportionate share of the world’s Covid-19 vaccine supplies have gone to wealthier countries, which purchased hundreds of millions of doses last year. COVAX has aimed to fill this gap by heavily subsidizing vaccines for poorer countries, an effort that’s received significant U.S. backing in the past. The United States purchased 500 million extra doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in June and pledged to donate them to low- and middle-income countries via COVAX, and the Biden administration has offered to donate up to $4 billion to COVAX over the next few years. Still, COVAX has struggled with insufficient resources and heavy restrictions on vaccine exports from countries like India. Last week, COVAX cut the number of doses it expects to deliver this year by around 25%, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a months-long moratorium on wealthy countries offering Covid-19 booster shots as billions of people wait to receive their first dose.
U.S. to buy hundreds of millions more doses of Pfizer vaccine to donate to the world (Washington Post)