United States to double global COVID vaccine donation – Times-Herald

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By Zeke Miller | Associated press

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that the United States is doubling its purchases of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines to share with the world to 1 billion doses as he embraces the goal of vaccinating 70% of the world’s population during of the next year.

The increased U.S. engagement marks the cornerstone of the global immunization summit that Biden met virtually on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, where he urged wealthy countries to do more to bring the coronavirus under control . It comes as world leaders, aid groups and global health organizations are raising their voices over the slowness of global vaccinations and unequal access to vaccines among residents of the wealthiest countries and countries. the poorest.

“Global health security has failed so far, to the tune of 4.5 million lives, and it is not over,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the summit, referring to the toll worldwide confirmed deaths from the coronavirus. “We have effective COVID-19 vaccines. We can end the pandemic. And that’s why I called for a global immunization plan and I hope this summit is a step in that direction.

The US purchase of 500 million additional vaccines brings the total US immunization commitment to more than 1.1 billion doses through 2022. About 160 million vaccines supplied by the United States have already been distributed in more than 100 countries, which represents more donations than the rest of the world. combined. The remaining US doses will be distributed over the coming year.

“To beat the pandemic here, we have to beat it everywhere,” Biden said. He added that with the new pledges, “For every injection we have given to date in America, we have now committed to giving three shots to the rest of the world.”

The latest purchase only reflects a fraction of what will be needed to meet the goal of vaccinating 70% of the world’s population – and 70% of every nation’s citizens – by the next UN meeting in September. It’s a target pushed by global aid groups that Biden has backed with all his weight.

Biden urges other countries to do more in their vaccine sharing plans.

“We need other high-income countries to keep their own ambitious vaccine donations and pledges,” Biden said. He called on rich countries to commit to donating, rather than selling the pictures to poorer nations, and providing them “without any political conditions.”

The European Union has pledged to donate 500 million doses – a slight increase from its previously announced plans – according to a joint statement between the bloc and the United States “We call on countries capable of immunizing their populations to double their dose sharing commitments or to make significant contributions to vaccine preparation, ”the statement said.

They also pledged to work with the United States to strengthen the global vaccine supply.

Biden, in his remarks, said the United States would also increase funding to global aid groups that administer the shootings.

The US response has been criticized for being too modest, especially as the administration advocates providing booster shots to tens of millions of Americans before vulnerable people in poorer countries have even received an injection. first dose.

“We have observed failures of multilateralism to respond in a fair and coordinated manner at the most critical times. The gaps that exist between nations with regard to the vaccination process are unprecedented, ”Colombian President Iván Duque told the United Nations on Tuesday.

More than 5.9 billion doses of COVID-19 have been administered worldwide in the past year, representing about 43% of the world’s population. But there are large disparities in distribution, with many low-income countries struggling to immunize even the most vulnerable part of their population, and some still exceed immunization rates by 2-3%.

Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said the “triumph” of rapid vaccine development was offset by a political “failure” that resulted in inequitable distribution. “In science, cooperation prevailed; in politics, individualism. In science, shared information reigned supreme; in politics, reserve. In science, teamwork predominated; in politics, an isolated effort, ”Piñera said.

The World Health Organization says only 15% of pledged vaccine donations – from wealthy countries that have access to large quantities of vaccines – have been delivered. The UN health agency has said it wants countries to “immediately” meet their dose-sharing commitments and make vaccines available to programs that benefit poor countries and Africa in particular. . COVAX, the UN-backed program to ship vaccines to all countries with production problems, supply shortages and a virtual shift in the vaccine market by rich countries.

WHO has urged companies that produce vaccines to prioritize COVAX and make their procurement schedules public. He also called on wealthy countries to avoid large deployments of recall so that doses can be made available to healthcare workers and vulnerable people in the developing world. Such calls have been largely ignored.

COVAX missed almost all of its vaccine sharing targets. Its leaders have also lowered their ambitions to ship vaccines by the end of this year, from an initial target of some 2 billion doses globally to hopes of 1.4 billion now. Even that mark could be missed.

As of Tuesday, COVAX had shipped more than 296 million doses to 141 countries.

“Today’s summit was full of speeches but tragically lacking in action,” said Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America. “While we applaud President Biden for rallying world leaders to commit to vaccinating 70% of the world by the same time next year, we have yet to see an effective plan to reach this goal. President Biden and the leaders of rich countries should listen to what leaders of developing countries are asking for: the rights and the recipe to make their own doses of the vaccine. “

Biden earlier this year broke with his European allies to adopt intellectual property rights waivers for vaccines, but there was no movement on Wednesday towards the needed global consensus on the issue required by the rules of the ‘World organization of commerce. While some nongovernmental organizations have called the waivers vital in boosting global vaccine production, U.S. officials concede that this is not the most compelling factor in inequitable vaccine distribution – and some privately doubt that the waivers for very complex vaccines would lead to improved production.

The global target of 70% is ambitious, in particular because of the American experience.

Biden had set a goal of vaccinating 70% of America’s adult population by July 4, but continued reluctance to vaccinate helped the nation not reach that goal until a month later. Nearly 64% of the entire U.S. population has received at least one dose and less than 55% is fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

U.S. officials hope to increase those numbers in the coming months, both by encouraging the use of vaccination warrants and by vaccinating children once regulators clear vaccines for the population under 12.

Aid groups have warned that persistent inequalities risked spreading the global pandemic, which could lead to new, more dangerous variants. The delta variant that rages in the United States has been shown to be more transmissible than the original strain, although existing vaccines have been effective in preventing almost all serious illness and death.

Associated Press editors Jamey Keaten, Josh Boak, and David Biller contributed to this report.

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