The U.S. will acquire 500m of Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer to donate to other countries, Joe Biden announced Thursday, a significant expansion of the country’s efforts to help increase inoculation rates around the world.
The Biden administration had agreed to buy 200m of doses this year and 300m in the first half of next year to ship to other countries, according to a person familiar with the matter, who confirmed a report first from the Washington Post.
The agreement marks a significant expansion of U.S. vaccine export action, following criticism that the country was accumulating doses instead of helping those in need.
The White House did not comment, while Pfizer did not immediately respond to a request to do so. Biden is scheduled to make the announcement in the UK, ahead of the G7 summit this weekend in Cornwall.
The United States has monitored one of the fastest vaccine outbreaks in the world, providing at least one dose to just over half of its population. But the demand for doses has slowed in recent weeks, and just over 1m people now receive vaccinations every day – down from about 3.5th of April.
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Biden promised to donate 80m of doses from the village store, the first 25m of which were assigned last week. This commitment has provoked criticism from some experts, who warn that they will be needed more to help countries like it India, which has seen a second devastating wave of the disease in recent months.
All 500m doses will be allocated through the Covax scheme supported by the World Health Organization, according to the person informed about the details, and given to 92 countries. Part of the government’s negotiations was led by Jeff Zients, the head of Biden’s Covid-19 working group, the person added.