WASHINGTON – An international effort to speed up the manufacture and distribution of coronavirus vaccines around the world was lifted Thursday on two fronts: White House officials said the Biden administration would keep its US pledge to donate $ 4 billion to the campaign over two years, and pharmaceutical company Novavax has pledged to sell 1.1 billion doses of its vaccine.
President Biden will make his announcement on Friday in a virtual meeting with other leaders of the Group of 7, where he is also expected to call on other countries to step up their contributions. The $ 4 billion was approved last year by a Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate when President Donald J. Trump was in office.
Public health experts often say that if not everyone is vaccinated, it is as if no one is vaccinated. One of the officials, who spoke anonymously to preview the president’s announcement, said it was also in the interest of international security for the United States to contribute to efforts abroad to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
Countries like India and China are already using the coronavirus vaccine as a diplomatic tool; both distribute doses to other countries in an attempt to expand their global influence. National security experts said the United States should consider doing the same.
“We could use the vaccine internationally to strengthen our relations with our allies, to possibly establish positive cooperation with China, to deal with humanitarian problems in the less developed regions of the world,” Richard J. Danzig, who was Secretary of the Navy to President Bill Clinton said in an interview late last year, lamenting the Trump administration’s indifference to the idea. Such an effort, he said, “could give us a very substantial national security advantage.”
The Biden White appears to be heading in that direction. After taking office, Biden called on federal agencies to come up with “a framework for the donation of surplus vaccine, once there is enough vaccine in the United States, to countries in need,” including through the international program.
But, an official said on Thursday, the United States will not share vaccines for now, as the nationwide vaccination campaign grows.
The administration has obtained 600 million doses of the two vaccines that have emergency clearance, enough for 300 million Americans. Those doses are expected to be available by the end of the summer, and Mr Biden said this week that the vaccines would be available to every American by the end of July. If additional vaccines are approved, as is highly likely, it would add to the US supply.
The international vaccination effort, known as Covax, has been led by the public-private partnership known as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as well as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the Organization world . It aims to distribute vaccines deemed safe and effective by WHO, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries.
Organization and scorned foreign aid, pursuing foreign policy which he called “America first”. Mr Biden joined the World Health Organization immediately after taking office in January.
One of the officials said Mr Biden would call on other countries to make meaningful promises to Covax.
So far, the United States has promised more than any other nation, according to the White House; The official said the goal was to turn the second tranche of $ 2 billion into $ 15 billion – the amount the administration believes is needed to increase the supply of vaccines around the world and to distribute it.
Covax executives greeted Novavax’s announcement with enthusiasm. Dr Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, said in a statement that the donation would help the campaign “get closer to our goal of delivering two billion doses by 2021”. He said it would also expand the range of vaccines he could draw on to “build a portfolio suitable for all settings and contexts.”