President Joe Biden announced on Monday that the United States will share an additional 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with the rest of the world in the next six weeks, as domestic demand for shots falls and global disparities in distribution become more apparent.
The doses will be derived from existing Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine stocks, marking the first time that US-controlled doses of vaccines approved for use in the country will be shared with other countries. It will increase the United States’ global vaccine sharing commitment to 80 million.
“We know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic that’s raging globally is under control,” Biden said at the White House.
The announcement follows the Biden administration’s prior commitment to share approximately 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet approved for use in the United States, by the end of June. The AstraZeneca doses will be shipped once they have passed a safety review by the Food and Drug Administration.
In addition, Biden appointed COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients to lead the administration’s efforts to share doses with the rest of the world.
“Our nation’s going to be the arsenal of vaccines for the rest of the world,” Biden said. He added that, compared to other countries like Russia and China that have sought to leverage their domestically produced doses, “we will not use our vaccines to secure favors from other countries.”
The Biden administration has not yet stated how the new vaccine commitment will be distributed or which countries will receive them.
To date, the United States has distributed approximately 4.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada and Mexico. As the company has met its initial contract commitments to the federal government, additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine manufactured in the United States have begun to be exported.
As domestic interest in vaccines has waned, the United States has come under increasing pressure to share more of its vaccine stockpile with the rest of the world.
Over 157 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 123 million have been fully immunized against the virus. Biden hopes that by July 4th, the United States will have fully vaccinated 160 million people.
More than 3.3 million people have been confirmed to have died as a result of the coronavirus worldwide. More than 586,000 people have died as a result of COVID-19 in the United States.