“As long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable,” Biden said in a statement. “And the United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.”
The majority of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson doses, 19 million, will be sent to the COVAX global vaccine aid program. Six million will go to South and Central America and the Caribbean; seven million will go to South and Southeast Asia; and five million will go to Africa, in coordination with the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The remaining six million doses will be sent to “regional priorities” and allies, including Canada, Mexico, India, the West Bank and Gaza and the Republic of Korea.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at a press conference Tuesday that the White House is not asking for concessions or conditions on the donation of the vaccine doses, although the U.S. will have the final “say” in which countries receive them.
“We’re not seeking to extract concessions. We’re not extorting,” Sullivan said. “We’re not imposing conditions the way that other countries who are providing doses are doing. We are doing none of those things. These are doses that are being given, donated free and clear to these countries for the sole purpose of improving the public health situation and helping in the pandemic.”
The process of donating vaccines to other countries has not been smooth, and Biden has been pressured to ramp up these efforts, especially considering billions of doses will be needed to vaccinate the global population. Biden had pledged in April to send 60 million AstraZeneca doses abroad by July 4, but problems in the manufacturing process led to the doses being held back while an FDA safety review is pending.
“It’s great to share, but redistributing 20 million existing doses has little impact on the global demand for the 10-to-15 billion doses needed,” Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, told the Washington Post in May. “Obviously, it’s better to share than not, but it’s like offering 20 million bites from our existing slice of pizza when… we need to be getting a bunch of new pizza production lines going as fast as possible.”
This will not be the last vaccine doses the U.S. donates, according to the administration. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the U.S. will announce plans for distributing 80 million pledged vaccine doses in the next couple of weeks.