Johnson Plans to Donate Surplus UK Vaccines to Poorer Nations
Feb 19 2021
The first lot of $500 million will be paid after initial donor pledges are fulfilled and first vaccine doses have been delivered.
Biden will also encourage G-7 partners to make good on their pledges to COVAX, an initiative by the World Health Organization to improve access to vaccines, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview Biden's announcement. 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.
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.
Yet they said no decision had been made on directly donating surplus vaccine doses already purchased by the United States to other countries, which could speed efforts to get the world's population vaccinated.
However, some organisations said the funding and donations announced, while welcome, were still not enough.
Biden administration officials said their focus was also on vaccinating Americans and sought to separate the domestic and global efforts.
"By harnessing our collective ingenuity, we can ensure we have the vaccines, treatments and tests to be battle-ready for future health threats, as we beat COVID-19 and build back better together", Johnson said in a statement before the meeting.
"The United States is really excited to be making our first contribution to COVAX", said the official.
Britain holds the presidency for the Group of Seven leading economies this year.
India has also recently begun donating and selling doses of vaccines produced domestically to poor countries that don't have access to other shots.
The vaccine is under review by the USA health regulator, and a panel of the Food and Drug Administration's experts are expected to discuss the vaccine's emergency use authorisation next week.
The other side: The White House said on Thursday's briefing call that the administration planned to turn to donations only after all USA demand was met.
The WHO has given emergency authorization to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the one from AstraZeneca and Oxford University. COVAX organizers are aiming to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of this year, with a focus on vaccinating health care workers and the most vulnerable.