United States President Joe Biden will on Thursday make an announcement of purchasing an additional 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to donate to low and lower-middle-income countries around the world, senior administration officials said.
"These half a billion vaccines will be made here in the United States by American workers. They’ll start shipping out in January. And that means from January through September of next year, we will ship out 800 million vaccines to the world," the officials added.
With this, the US will be donating a total of over 1.1 billion vaccines to the world, the officials said. "The United States -- let me repeat that, The United States is donating 1.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the world, free of charge, no strings attached," they added.
President Biden will also reportedly ask leaders to vaccinate 70 per cent of every country by September 2022, the officials further said.
According to an AP report, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that only 15% of promised donations of vaccines - from rich countries that have access to large quantities of them - have been delivered. The U.N. health agency has said it wants countries to fulfill their dose-sharing pledges "immediately" and make shots available for programs that benefit poor countries and Africa in particular.
COVAX, the UN-backed program to ship vaccines to all countries has struggled with production issues, supply shortages and a near-cornering of the market for vaccines by wealthy nations.
The WHO has urged companies that produce vaccines to prioritize COVAX and make public their supply schedules. It also has appealed to wealthy countries to avoid broad rollouts of booster shots so doses can be made available to health care workers and vulnerable people in the developing world. Such calls have largely gone ignored.
COVAX has missed nearly all of its vaccine-sharing targets. Its managers also have lowered their ambitions to ship vaccines by the end of this year, from an original target of some 2 billion doses worldwide to hopes for 1.4 billion now. Even that mark could be missed.
As of Tuesday, COVAX had shipped more than 296 million doses to 141 countries.