US commits $4 billion to COVAX vaccine initiative

Brenda Watkins
February 19, 2021

But Biden, who announced last week that the USA will have enough supply of the vaccine by the end of the summer to inoculate 300 million people, remains focused for now on making sure every American is inoculated, administration officials say.

A health worker prepares an injection with a dose of Astra Zeneca coronavirus vaccine, at a vaccination centre in Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, February 18, 2021. Allowing high numbers of infections to continue across the world is also likely to lead to new virus variants that can threaten to prolong the pandemic for rich and poor countries alike, experts argue.

The COVAX program has already missed its own goal of beginning coronavirus vaccinations in poor countries at the same time that shots were rolled out in rich countries.

Biden administration officials said their focus was also on vaccinating Americans and sought to separate the domestic and worldwide efforts.

The Liberals have been under fire from worldwide organizations and some opposition parties for the decision to accept 1.9 million doses of vaccine from COVAX for domestic use in Canada by the end of June.

The Biden administration believes that supporting COVAX "is one of the best ways to expand access to Covid vaccines", the Biden official said, noting that the global effort works only with vaccines that meet World Health Organization standards for both safety and efficacy.

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Johnson & Johnson executive Dr. Paul Stoffels gives an update to "America's Newsroom" on the company's single-dose vaccine and how soon it hopes to receive emergency authorization. Doses remain scarce for now, but supply will eventually far outstrip demand.

The president, in his first national security memorandum last month, called for his administration to develop a framework to donate surplus vaccines once there is a sufficient supply in the U.S.

French President Emmanuel Macron, in an interview Thursday with the Financial Times, called on the USA and European nations to allocate up to 5% of current vaccine supplies to developing countries - the kind of vaccine diplomacy that China and Russian Federation have begun deploying.

J&J entered into an agreement in December in support of the Covax programme.

United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to seize on the change in U.S. leadership and put three items on top of the G7 agenda: health, climate change and economic rebounding from the pandemic.

Outside of Covax, China, Russia and India have already begun donating or selling vaccines to their neighbours or allies, in what has been dubbed "vaccine diplomacy". "You know, the President is engaged with a range of leaders around the world, conveying how he wants to return the United States to have a central seat on the world stage, and we're working to do that through a range of actions".

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