On Tuesday, President Biden announced that The U.S. has delivered 110 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 65 countries, from Afghanistan to Zambia.
To date, The U.S. has donated Covid-19 vaccines as follows:
Biden said that the donations prove that “democracies can deliver”. He added that the U.S. has acquired another 500 million Pfizer vaccines that will be donated to low- and middle-income countries by the end of the month, emphasizing that global vaccination is essential: “You can’t build a wall high enough to keep us safe from COVID in other countries.”
According to the World Health Organization, these donations are just the first step needed to vaccinate 70 per cent of the world’s population and bring the pandemic. “Sharing vaccine doses isn’t quite as easy as just putting them on a plane and calling somebody at the other end and telling them when they’ll arrive,” said Gayle Smith, the global COVID-19 response coordinator at the State Department.
Biden first said that the US would distribute 80 million doses to countries in need by the end of June, only to say that the goal had been “allocate” by the end of July. Legal and regulatory hurdles loom for such sophisticated medical goods, Smith said — both for the U.S. to export them and for countries to receive them. And it’s an urgent matter: Doses must be distributed before their expiration date, with cold chains set up to keep them from spoiling. Solutions have to be devised country by country, sometimes with elaborate legal agreements.
However, Biden administration can’t call all the shots. “In some countries, it’s actually required … to take new laws to their parliaments so they can accept these vaccines, so it’s a complicated logistical exercise, but I think we’ve shown it’s entirely doable,” Smith said in an interview with NPR.
These first 100 million deliveries reflect Biden’s effort to establish the U.S. as “the world’s arsenal of vaccines” and are essentially a warmup for the hundreds of millions of shots that the U.S. has pledged to deliver later this year and next.