Biden says US will be ‘arsenal’ of vaccines in worldwide fight against Covid

President Joe Biden laid out his administration’s plan to donate 500 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for the purpose of donations to lower-income countries on Thursday during a speech in Cornwall, UK, as he meets with European leaders at the G7.

Mr Biden stressed that the donation would be the largest donation of vaccines since the pandemic began, and would come with “no strings attached.”

“At my direction, the United States will purchase half a billion doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, to donate to nearly 100 nations that are in dire need,” Mr Biden said.

“America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our global fight against Covid-19, just as America was the arsenal of democracy in World War 2,” he continued.

The president’s announcement, which came at a joint address alongside Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, came a day after the plan was first reported by The Washington Post and hours after an early-morning news release from the White House confirmed the news.

Mr Biden’s address followed his meeting Thursday with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and ahead of other meetings with world leaders at the G7 this week.

“This is the largest-ever purchase and donation of vaccines by a single country and a commitment by the American people to help protect people around the world from COVID-19,” stressed White House officials in a statement Thursday.

The donation will be managed through the World Health Organization-led COVAX effort, which has set a goal of distributing two billion shots by the end of 2021 and helping low-income nations vaccinate at least 20 percent of their populations.

The White House statement Thursday also stressed the Biden administration’s monetary support for COVAX, which suffered under the Trump administration due to the US’s withdrawal from the global health body at the direction of former President Trump.

Access to vaccine doses has become a major issue for many nations struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and many shortages still exist around the world. While the US has seen more than 40 percent of its total population vaccinated against the virus, many nations are struggling to reach a fraction of that amount.

Around 2.25 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered around the world, according to a tracker operated by The New York Times, a figure which includes many doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine.

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