Biden To Offer $4 Billion To Fund Coronavirus Vaccinations In Developing Countries

Biden To Offer $4 Billion To Fund Coronavirus Vaccinations In Developing Countries

President Joe Biden is committing billions of dollars to a cash-strapped global project aiming to send coronavirus vaccines to poor and middle-income countries, the president plans to announce on Friday, a significant reversal from the Trump administration’s stance.

The United States will pitch in an initial $2 billion to the COVAX global vaccination campaign immediately, allowing the initiative to buy up vaccine doses and ship them to nearly 100 developing countries, the White House confirmed to Forbes.

Biden plans to offer another $2 billion over the next two years, part of an effort to push other wealthier countries to donate to the program.

Biden will formally announce this pledge at the G7 summit on Friday, about four weeks after his administration first committed to backing COVAX, and almost two months after Congress approved $4 billion in funding in its massive year-end spending bill.

The initiative will not clash with efforts to vaccinate Americans, administration officials told reporters: The White House’s purchase of 600 million Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses (enough to immunize most Americans) is separate from COVAX.

TANGENT

Former President Donald Trump opted out of COVAX last fall. Administration officials framed this decision as part of his America First strategy, but it may have also been driven by Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization, one of COVAX’s primary international backers.

BIG NUMBER

330 million. That’s how many doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine COVAX is aiming to distribute to poorer countries this year, starting later this month. The WHO approved the vaccine for emergency use on Monday, clearing the way for COVAX to start shipping it.

KEY BACKGROUND

As the world races to distribute coronavirus vaccines, poorer nations are lagging behind. Wealthy countries bought up a disproportionate share of available doses last year, and the WHO said Thursday that just 10 countries have administered 75% of the world’s vaccine doses so far, whereas 130 countries haven’t distributed any shots at all. COVAX was formed last year to help stem this problem, pooling resources from wealthy nations to buy doses for resource-strapped developing countries. But public health officials say the initiative needs more money to reach its goal of immunizing billions of people over the next few years.

SURPRISING FACT

COVAX was set up to help immunize the developing world, but Canada — among the world’s wealthiest countries — drew criticism earlier this month for using the program to access more than a million vaccine doses for its citizens. Government officials justified the decision by noting that Canada has paid into COVAX.

Forbes

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