- The announcement will be made by President Joe Biden during G7 meeting on Friday; vaccines to be routed via WHO-led COVAX programme over 2 years
Washington D.C.: After pledging 80 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to needy countries, the US will now donate additional 500 million doses. An announcement to this effect is expected on Thursday by President Joe Biden. This donation would be the biggest one by a single nation. Biden is currently in UK as part of an eight-day tour, his first overseas trip since taking office. He will make the announcement of the donation at the meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) countries.
The 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccine will be donated to more than 90 countries over the next two years. Like the earlier one, this aid too will be routed through COVAX —a programme led by the WHO and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines—and will be sent to countries that have been waiting for the vaccines. India, too, was to get a share in the earlier promised global aid.
Last month, the WHO had warned that the severe shortage of supply and lack of funds would badly hit the COVAX programme. The Covid-19 crisis in India during the second wave of the pandemic was responsible for causing a huge dent in the vaccine supply for COVAX, since India was the largest supplier to the programme. With cases surging rapidly, the country had suspended exports of vaccines. WHO had urged countries that had vaccinate majority of their population to donate their surplus supplies. According to reports, some countries had ordered more than required doses of the vaccine. This hoarding was affecting the access of low and middle-income countries to the vaccine.
“The goal of today’s donation is to save lives and end the pandemic and will provide the foundation for additional actions to be announced in the coming days,” the White House said, according to a report. It has been under a lot of pressure to increase vaccine donation to other countries.
This fresh donation will be part of the $4 billion commitment that US had made to COVAX in February this year. At that time, Biden had announced immediate donation of $2 billion to COVAX, and the remaining $ 2 billion over next two years as other nations pledged and fulfilled their promises.
In April this year, the US had come under sharp criticism for initially rejecting India’s appeal for help with vaccines when the latter was struggling with the worst-ever health crisis. Shortly thereafter, the US had pledged to support India in its Covid-19 fight.
Earlier this week, WHO had urged vaccine manufacturers to commit half of their volumes to the COVAX facility. Mentioning the upcoming G7 meeting, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had called upon the leaders not just to commit to sharing doses, but to do so by June-July
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