The United States reached an agreement with Pfizer to purchase 500 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine for distribution in nearly 100 countries around the world, as a centerpiece of Joe Biden’s initiative to help vaccinate the world against Covid- 19, according to US reports.
Under the scheme, which President Biden is expected to announce in the UK on Thursday, the United States would pay for vaccines at cost price. The first 200 m doses will be distributed this year and the remaining 300 m in the first half of next year.
The vaccines will reportedly be donated through Covax, the global initiative to help developing countries cope with the pandemic, and will go to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union.
The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal cited several anonymous sources familiar with the plan.
The global vaccine initiative is part of Biden’s broader strategy to restore America’s global influence and soft power, which he believed had been eroded by Donald Trump’s four years in office and foreign policies. increasingly assertive from China and Russia.
Pfizer did not comment on the reports, but its CEO, Albert Bourla, is expected to join the president for the announcement in the UK.
Biden arrived in the UK on Wednesday night and addressed US troops at RAF Mildenhall airbase where Air Force One landed. He outlined his plans in general, but did not elaborate on his planned vaccine diplomacy.
The president intends to use the G7 summit in Cornwall, and the NATO and EU summits in Brussels over the next few days, to advocate for renewed democratic leadership in the world, as a bulwark against the invasion of autocracies. An important part of the weekend’s discussions will focus on how to achieve a more equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.
At a time when more than 40% of Americans and British people are fully vaccinated, many of the world’s poorest countries have only just begun vaccinating their populations. Haiti has yet to administer a single vaccine and will not receive its first shipment of 130,000 doses until next week.
The host of the G7 summit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has called on G7 leaders to commit to vaccinating the entire world by the end of 2022.
The United States had already agreed to a contract to buy 300 million doses of Pfizer / BioNTech, so the global initiative will bring the country’s total purchase to 800 million.
Before the new initiative, the Biden administration planned to share at least 80 million doses of vaccines with the world by the end of the month, 19 million of them for Covax, the global scheme backed by the World Health Organization. An additional 6 million shots would be channeled directly to India and other countries suffering from severe outbreaks.
Just over a month ago, the Biden administration announced its support for an exemption on vaccine patents, aimed at closing the large “vaccine gap” between rich and poor countries, but the suggestion met resistance from European countries. , who argued that patents were not the main bottleneck for production and distribution, and that the waiver of patents would discourage pharmaceutical research and development in the future.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients, who reportedly negotiated the deal with Pfizer in recent weeks, traveled to the UK with the president. In a statement Wednesday, he said the president would use the “momentum” of the US vaccination campaign “to unite the world’s democracies around solving this crisis on a global level, with the United States leading the way. create the arsenal of vaccines that will be fundamental in our global fight against Covid-19 ”.