Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. He can be reached on [email protected]
The Biden administration is sending 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa out of the first 25 million doses it is sending to the world to help end the coronavirus pandemic. It is part of at least 80 million U.S. vaccine doses the U.S. will be sending to countries in the world by the end of June.
The White House said the Biden administration will share 75% of the 80 million U.S. vaccine doses through COVAX and 25% with countries that are in immediate need or experiencing surges.
For the first 25 million doses, nearly 19 million will be shared through COVAX, with approximately 5 million doses for Africa to be shared with countries that will be selected in coordination with the African Union, the White House said.
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It added that approximately 6 million doses will be going to the South and Central American countries of Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, as well as the Dominican Republic, while about 7 million doses for Asia will go to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, and the Pacific Islands.
The rest of the vaccine doses, approximately 6 million, will be targeted toward regional priorities and partner recipients, including Mexico, Canada, and the Republic of Korea, West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Haiti, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Yemen, as well as for United Nations frontline workers.
“The United States has received requests for vaccines from countries all over the world. The U.S. will share up to one-quarter of its donated doses directly with countries in need, those experiencing surges, immediate neighbors, and other countries that have requested immediate U.S. assistance,” the White House said, adding that the United States will share at least three-quarters of its donated doses through COVAX.
“This will maximize the number of vaccines available equitably for the greatest number of countries and for those most at-risk within countries. For doses shared through COVAX, the United States will prioritize Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa, in coordination with the African Union,” it added.
President Biden has promised that the United States will be an arsenal of vaccines for the world, and to achieve that goal, his administration will pursue several additional measures beyond the funding for COVAX, the White House said on Thursday.
Apart from donating the U.S. vaccine supply to the world and encouraging other nations to do the same while working with U.S. manufacturers to increase vaccine production globally, the Biden administration will also help more countries to expand their own capacity to produce vaccines including through support for global supply chains.
“This vaccine strategy is a vital component of our overall global strategy to lead the world in the fight to defeat COVID-19, including emergency public health assistance and aid to stop the spread and building global public health capacity and readiness to beat not just this pandemic, but the next one,” the White House said in a detailed fact sheet.
In a statement, President Biden said ending the coronavirus pandemic means ending it everywhere.
He wrote: “As the United States continues our efforts to get every eligible American vaccinated and fight COVID-19 here at home, we also recognize that ending this pandemic means ending it everywhere. As long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable. And the United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.
“Already the United States has committed $4 billion to support COVAX, and we have launched partnerships to boost global capacity to manufacture more vaccines. My administration supports efforts to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines because, over time, we need more companies producing life-saving doses of proven vaccines that are shared equitably. We have already shared more than 4 million doses of vaccine with Canada and Mexico, and last month, I announced that, by the end of June, the United States will share 80 million doses of our vaccine supply with the world.
“Today, we’re providing more detail on how we will allocate the first 25 million of those vaccines to lay the ground for increased global coverage and to address real and potential surges, high burdens of disease, and the needs of the most vulnerable countries. At least 75 percent of these doses—nearly 19 million—will be shared through COVAX, including approximately 6 million doses for Latin America and the Caribbean, approximately 7 million for South and Southeast Asia, and approximately 5 million for Africa, working in coordination with the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The remaining doses, just over 6 million, will be shared directly with countries experiencing surges, those in crisis, and other partners and neighbors, including Canada, Mexico, India, and the Republic of Korea.
“We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values. And we will continue to follow the science and to work in close cooperation with our democratic partners to coordinate a multilateral effort, including through the G7.
“Strong American leadership is essential to ending this pandemic now, and to strengthening global health security for tomorrow—to better prevent, detect, and respond to the next threat. The United States will be the world’s arsenal of vaccines in our shared fight against this virus. In the days to come, as we draw on the experience of distributing the vaccine doses announced today, we will have more details to provide about how future doses will be shared. And we will continue to do all we can to build a world that is safer and more secure against the threat of infectious disease.”