The United States will double its COVID-19 vaccine donations, bringing the total doses promised to poor countries to more than 1.1 billion, Joe Biden said on Wednesday, making clear his intention to lead the global response against the pandemic.
The US president could have made the announcement Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly, but he reserved it for a virtual meeting organized on his initiative the next day. “I made the promise, and I keep it, that America will be the arsenal of vaccines for the world, just as it was the arsenal of democracy during World War II,” he said. from the White House, surrounded by screens. This announcement comes as Beijing also wants to position itself as a resource for countries in search of vaccines.
For each dose administered in the United States, Washington gives three to other countries, the president said at the meeting, which included South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, as well as United Nations and World Health Organization officials.
“We need other high-income countries to put their ambitious pledges into practice,” said Joe Biden.
Spain on Wednesday announced a donation of a total of 30 million doses to developing countries, while Japan increased the number of doses it will provide to the world to 60 million. The European Union (EU), with which the United States intends to cooperate closely, will distribute more than 500 million doses.
We need other high-income countries to act on their ambitious pledges
The EU and Washington also want to see the birth of an international fund devoted to international health issues, as well as the establishment of an international “pandemic radar” to detect future outbreaks of contagion.
The United States will purchase and distribute to developing countries an additional 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, bringing its pledge to 1.1 billion doses, taking into account previous announcements. Pfizer and BioNTech say in a statement that the billion doses they will provide to the United States for donation, at cost, must be fully distributed by August 2022.
The United States keep repeating that their donations are not accompanied by any political conditions, a more or less veiled way of pointing out China, which according to them would practice “vaccine diplomacy” by calibrating its donations very precisely.
Chinese President Xi Jinping in a video message to the UN released on Tuesday said that “ensuring fair and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world is a pressing priority.” China intends “to provide a total of 2 billion doses of vaccine to the world by the end of the year,” he said, repeating a figure already given by the Chinese authorities, who do not however specify in which proportion these are sales or donations.