With Thursday’s announcement by U.S. President Joe Biden that his administration is donating 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to 92 low- and middle-income countries, the United States aims to liberate itself from the uncomfortable reputation of being a vaccine hoarder.
Biden could not have chosen a more opportune time and place for the announcement — a day before the start of the G-7 summit, a meeting of the world’s most advanced democracies in Cornwall, United Kingdom. In doing so, he is setting a high bar for wealthy nations to do the same.
According to the White House, the half a billion Pfizer doses will be delivered by June of next year, including 200 million to be delivered by the end of 2021. The administration said the donation will “serve as the foundation for a coordinated effort by the world’s democracies to vaccinate people around the world.”
The doses, delivered by the U.S. through COVAX, the United Nations vaccine-sharing mechanism, are in addition to the 80 million already committed by the U.S. to be delivered by the end of June. In addition, the U.S. has given $2 billion to COVAX.
Initially U.S. had pledged for an additional $2 billion for COVAX but is now redirecting the money to help pay for the 500 million donated doses, which has an estimated cost of $3.5 billion.
Biden’s announcement is a signal that the U.S. “isn’t as intensely parochial and inward focused,” said Leslie Vinjamuri, director of the U.S. and Americas program at Chatham House.