U.S. President Joe Biden plans to buy and donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to more than 90 countries, while calling on the world’s democracies to do their part to help end the deadly pandemic, the White House said.
The announcement of the vaccine donation – the largest ever by a single country – comes ahead of Biden’s meeting with leaders of the other Group of Seven advanced economies – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – in Cornwall, England.
“The goal of today’s donation is to save lives and end the pandemic and will provide the foundation for additional actions to be announced in the coming days,” the White House said.
U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech confirmed they will provide 200 million doses in 2021 and 300 million doses in the first half of 2022, which the United States will then distribute to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union.
The shots, which will be produced at Pfizer’s U.S. production sites, will be provided at a not-for-profit price.
“Our partnership with the U.S. government will help bring hundreds of millions of doses of our vaccine to the poorest countries around the world as quickly as possible,” said Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla.
“SUPERCHARGE THE GLOBAL FIGHT”
The donation, first reported on Wednesday, was negotiated over the past four weeks by White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients and the coronavirus task force team, a source familiar with the matter said.
It is meant to “supercharge the global fight against the pandemic,” the White House said.
The pandemic has killed about 3.9 million people around the world, with the infection reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
The new donations come on top of some 80 million doses Washington has already pledged to donate by the end of June, and $2 billion in funding earmarked for the COVAX program led by the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the White House said.
They will be part of the total U.S. commitment of $4 billion to COVAX announced earlier this year, a White House official said.
Washington is also taking steps to support local production of COVID-19 vaccines in other countries, including through its Quad initiative with Japan, India and Australia.
Pfizer plans to produce the half a billion doses at its facilities in Kalamazoo, Michigan; McPherson, Kansas; Chesterfield, Missouri; and Andover, Massachusetts, the White House said.
CNBC reported on Wednesday that the United States is also talking with Moderna Inc about buying some of its shots to donate to other countries.
A Moderna spokesperson said the company is interested in providing the U.S. government with COVID-19 shots for low- and middle-income countries but declined to comment on any talks.
Biden’s announcement comes amid mounting pressure for the United States, which has now given at least one shot to around 64% of its adult population, to boost donations of COVID-19 shots to other countries that are desperately seeking doses.