By Kate Sullivan, CNN
The Biden administration will share tens of millions of US Covid-19 vaccines this summer to countries around the globe, in addition to the 80 million it has already allocated, White House Covid-19 response director Jeff Zients said Thursday.
“Just as our work to vaccinate Americans does not stop on July Fourth, our work to help vaccinate the world does not stop at these 80 million doses,” Zients told reporters at a White House Covid-19 briefing. “We will continue to share tens of millions more US doses over the summer months as we help lead the fight to end the pandemic across the globe.”
The move is part of President Joe Biden’s effort to reassert US leadership on the world stage and help countries around the world struggling with Covid-19 outbreaks combat the pandemic. It will also serve to counter efforts by Russia and China to use their own state-funded vaccines to expand their global influence.
The US has allocated 80 million Covid-19 vaccines to countries around the globe, as the President had pledged to do by the end of June. The White House said at least 75% of these donated vaccines would be shared with the global vaccination program called Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, or COVAX, and 25% would be shared directly with countries in need.
Not all of the doses have shipped. By the end of this week, the US will have sent about 40 million doses to the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Colombia, Pakistan, Peru, Ecuador, Malaysia, Bangladesh and other countries, Zients said. The remainder of the 80 million doses will be shipped in coming weeks, he said. The vaccines being sent are the three that have been authorized for use in the US: by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
In addition to those 80 million doses, the President pledged last month to donate 500 million Pfizer doses globally.
“This is by far the largest ever donation of Covid-19 vaccines by a single country,” Zients said Thursday.
Earlier this year, the President said $2 billion in US contributions would go toward a global coronavirus vaccine initiative and would provide support to COVAX. He also pledged an additional $2 billion in funding contingent on contributions from other nations and dose delivery targets being met.
The announcement Thursday comes as federal officials voice concerns about variants spreading in the US and the administration races to get the rest of the US population vaccinated.
The White House also announced Thursday that it was deploying response teams across the US to areas with a high spread of the very contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 as concerns grow around the nation. The White House coronavirus team is spearheading the effort, and officials expect the response teams will help with boosting testing, providing supplies and potentially increasing paid media efforts targeting regions where vaccinations are low.
The White House recently acknowledged the US would fall short of Biden’s goals of having 70% of adult Americans with at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot and 160 million fully vaccinated by July Fourth. Zients said the country has more work to do to get younger Americans vaccinated, and that he expected the US to hit those goals weeks after the initial target date.
More than 154 million Americans had been fully vaccinated as of Thursday morning, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 57% of Americans 18 and older are fully vaccinated.
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