President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has outlined his COVID-19 vaccination plans following his inauguration on January 20, and although his plans still significantly prioritize US citizens, he has made efforts to improve global access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Only two days after his inauguration, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a chief medical adviser to the president, confirmed that the US would be supporting COVAX and other multilateral efforts to boost financial resources to international vaccine distribution.
According to the Managing Director at GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance co-leading COVAX, “The COVAX facility has secured two billion doses of vaccine from five producers, with options for over one billion more.”
However, the WHO has said that timelines and quantities change regularly due to regulatory approval and production delays.
Still, the diplomatic approach is to ensure that vaccine nationalism, or a country prioritizing their domestic needs at the expense of others, does not prevent global recovery and prolong the public-health crisis.
The Atlantic reported in a recent article that wealthy countries have created a massive shortage, leaving low-income countries in Africa and South America without any doses to distribute.
As a result, these countries succumb to virus variants, which have now spread to the United States and made the global situation more dangerous.
“The United States plans to work multilaterally to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Fauci.
Under President Biden, the U.S. has joined international programs including GAVI, the vaccine global partnership fighting against COVID-19; COVAX, the facility seeking to distribute COVID-19 vaccines around the world; and COVID-19 ACT Accelerator, a global effort to improve diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.
The entire healthcare industry is unprepared for the distribution of vaccines, even if production was improved. Thirteen African countries recently submitted proposals to the COVAX multi-agency committee to improve capacity for the ultra-cold infrastructure requirements.
As preparations continue, there are still numerous pharmaceutical agencies trying to produce different and adaptable vaccines. The rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved and COVAX has been granted emergency use by the WHO, improving current supply shortages.
In the end, US deaths due to COVID-related complications have far surpassed any other country. It is no wonder the US is committing huge resources to clearing vaccine shelves. However, political leaders may need to realize that US citizens are affected by global welfare and no one is safe until everyone is safe.