WASHINGTON – An international effort to expedite the manufacture and distribution of coronavirus vaccines around the world was fueled on Thursday on two fronts: White House officials said the Biden administration would keep a U.S. pledge over two years To donate $ 4 billion to the campaign and drug company Novavax pledged to sell 1.1 billion doses of its vaccine.
President Biden will make his announcement on Friday during a virtual meeting with fellow Group of Seven leaders where he is expected to urge other countries to step up their contributions. The $ 4 billion was approved by a Democrat-run house and Republican-run Senate last year when President Donald J. Trump was in office.
Public health experts often say that if everyone is not vaccinated, no one will be vaccinated. One of the officials, who spoke anonymously to preview the president’s announcement, said it was also in the interests of international security for the United States to help in efforts overseas to lessen the impact of the pandemic.
Countries like India and China are already using the coronavirus vaccine as a diplomatic tool. Both are giving doses to other nations to build their global influence. National security experts said the United States should consider the same thing.
“We could use the vaccine internationally to strengthen our relationships with allies, to potentially build positive relationships with China, and to solve humanitarian problems in less developed parts of the world,” said Richard J. Danzig, Secretary of the Navy to President Bill Clinton said in an interview late last year that he lamented the Trump administration’s indifference to the idea. Such an effort, he said, “could bring us a very significant national security benefit.”
The White House in Biden seems to be heading in that direction. After taking office, Mr. Biden directed federal agencies to “establish a framework for the donation of surplus vaccines to countries in need as soon as there is adequate supply in the US,” including under the international program.
Apr. 18, 2021, 8:01 p.m. ET
But an official said Thursday the United States will not share vaccines now while the domestic vaccination campaign expands.
The government received 600 million emergency-cleared doses of the two vaccines, enough for 300 million Americans. Those doses are expected to be in hand by the end of summer, and Mr Biden said this week that vaccines would be available to every American by the end of July. If additional vaccines were most likely approved, it would add to the United States supply.
The international vaccination effort, known as Covax, was led by the public-private health partnership called Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization. The aim is to distribute vaccines that have been identified as safe and effective by the WHO, with a focus on low and middle income countries.
White House officials said the money would be delivered in multiple installments: an initial donation of $ 500 million, followed by another $ 1.5 billion. The remaining $ 2 billion will be delivered by the end of 2022.
The president’s commitment to the global fight against the pandemic is in stark contrast to the approach taken by Mr Trump, who withdrew from the World Health Organization, despised foreign aid and pursued a foreign policy he called “America First”. Mr Biden rejoined the World Health Organization immediately after taking office in January.
One of the officials said Mr. Biden would urge other nations to make significant pledges to Covax.
So far, the United States has pledged more than any other nation, according to the White House; The official said the goal is to convert the second tranche of $ 2 billion into up to $ 15 billion – the amount the government deems necessary to increase and distribute vaccine supplies worldwide.
Those who led the Covax effort welcomed the Novavax announcement with enthusiasm. Dr. Seth Berkley, Gavi’s chief executive officer, said in a statement that the donation would help the campaign “move closer to our goal of delivering two billion cans by 2021”. He said it would also expand the range of vaccines it could rely on to “build a portfolio that is suitable for all settings and contexts”.