The United States is set to buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine which will then be shared to the world through COVAX, an alliance for donation that will help distribute these vaccinations to 92 lower income countries, as well as the African Union over the course of the next year.
President Joe Biden was reportedly set to make the official announcement about this during a speech on Thursday before the start of the Group of Seven summit. Two hundred million doses, which is enough for 100 million people to be fully vaccinated, is already set to be shared this year, with the remaining ones donated during the first half of 2022.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday that Biden was committed to sharing vaccines because it was in the public health and strategic interests of the U.S. As Biden embarks on his first foreign trip, he is aiming to show “that democracies are the countries that can best deliver solutions for people everywhere.”
“As he said in his joint session (address), we were the ‘arsenal of democracy’ in World War II,” Sullivan went on to say. “We’re going to be the ‘arsenal of vaccines’ over this next period to help end the pandemic.”
The news of the Pfizer sharing plan was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the president’s formal announcement. The news was first reported by the Washington Post.
The announcement comes a week after the White House unveiled its plans to donate an initial allotment of 25 million doses of surplus vaccine overseas, mostly through the United Nations-backed COVAX program, promising infusions for South and Central America, Asia, Africa and others at a time of glaring shortages abroad.
The White House has already announced its plans for sharing 80 million doses of the vaccine globally by the end of the month of June, again through COVAX. Officials have said that a quarter of the nation’s excess vaccine doses have been stored away for emergencies and for the U.S. to share directly with its allies and partners.