The makers of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine have confirmed that the US government will buy 500 million doses and share them with low-income countries.
Deliveries of the first 200 million doses, purchased at a non-profit price, will begin in August and the remainder will be shipped in the first six months of 2022, Pfizer and BioNTech said in a press release Thursday. The US government has the option of purchasing additional doses in 2022 and there are reports that it is in talks with Moderna Inc. about getting doses of its vaccine for further donations.
“The United States will allocate vaccine doses to 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries and economies as defined by [the COVAX alliance] and 55 member states of the African Union,” the companies said. “The US government and companies will work with COVAX to ensure that these vaccines are distributed to designated countries around the world in a way that is most efficient and equitable.”
The White House said in a statement on Thursday that “today’s donation aims to save lives and end the pandemic and will provide the basis for additional actions to be announced in the coming days.” This is to “supercharge the global fight against the pandemic”.
The announcement came during a meeting of leaders of the G7 countries in Cornwall, England, where the issue of vaccine sharing is expected to be discussed.
“We have to end COVID-19 not only at home, but everywhere,” US President Joe Biden said after arriving in Britain for the summit on Wednesday.
The US announcement, the largest donation by any country, would put additional pressure on Canada and Britain to share some of their supplements. Those countries are the only G7 member states – which also include France, Germany, Italy and Japan – that do not make a firm commitment to donate supplies. Both governments have said they will donate supplies at some point, not now.
The Canadian government has said it is waiting to confirm surplus doses before announcing any plans to donate the shots, but has not specified whether it will wait for all those who have previously completed their jobs. are eligible to receive. Canada has purchased 252.9 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate the entire population more than tripled. According to the U.S. Vaccine Tracking, the government is on track to supply enough to give two doses to all eligible Canadians by August.
The UK has ordered 400 million doses of the vaccine and so far 77 per cent of all adults have had one shot while 54 per cent have taken two. Last week Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the country was not in a position to share its supplies. Mr Hancock said after a meeting of G7 health ministers: “We don’t currently have any additional doses, because as soon as doses are available for the UK, we inject them into British weapons.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting the Cornwall summit, said he wants leaders to commit to the global vaccination effort. “The vaccination of the world by the end of next year will be the greatest achievement in medical history,” Mr Johnson said this week. However, he did not give any details on how this would be accomplished.
The World Health Organization and others have estimated that 11 billion doses would be needed to vaccinate everyone.
The COVAX coalition, set up by the WHO and other organizations last year, hoped to ensure that the 92 poorest countries could vaccinate at least 20 percent of their population in 2021. But COVAX has fallen far short of its objectives and by the end of June it will be 190 million doses behind schedule.
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