WASHINGTON — The U.S. will buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to share through the global COVAX alliance for donation to 92 lower income countries and the African Union over the next year, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
President Joe Biden was set to make the announcement Thursday in a speech before the start of the Group of Seven summit. Two hundred million doses — enough to fully protect 100 million people — would be shared this year, with the balance to be donated in the first half of 2022, the person said.
“We have to end COVID-19 not just at home — which we’re doing — but everywhere,” Biden said Wednesday in a speech to the U.S. military at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, the first stop of an eight-day, three-country foreign trip.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday that Biden was committed to sharing vaccines because it was in the public health and strategic interests of the U.S. As Biden embarks on his first foreign trip, he is aiming to show “that democracies are the countries that can best deliver solutions for people everywhere,” Sullivan said.
The news of the Pfizer sharing plan was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the president’s formal announcement. The news was first reported by The Washington Post.
The U.S. has faced mounting pressure to outline its global vaccine sharing plan. Inequities in supply around the world have become more pronounced, and the demand for shots in the U.S. — where nearly 64% of adults have received at least one dose — has dropped precipitously.
Last week, the White House unveiled its plans to donate an initial allotment of 25 million doses of surplus vaccine overseas, mostly through the United Nations-backed COVAX program, promising infusions for South and Central America, Asia, Africa and others at a time of glaring shortages abroad.