Biden pledges US$4 billion for global COVID-19 vaccine program

The US White House will announce plans to immediately grant US$2 billion to the international Covax programme

US will send $2 billion to global Covid vaccine program targeting developing nations

There has been pressure on Biden to donate a percentage of the US vaccine allotment to poorer countries, including from France's Emmanuel Macron.

But Mr Biden, who announced last week that the U.S. will have enough supply of the vaccine by the end of the summer to inoculate 300 million people, remains focused for now on making sure every American is inoculated, administration officials have said.

"The United States is really excited to be making our first contribution to COVAX", said the official. Some global health officials have complained that funding isn't the issue when it comes to getting the vaccine quickly to developing countries because there isn't enough vaccine to buy, a problem the US has contributed to by snatching up hundreds of millions of doses for Americans. It has secured deals with vaccine makers to purchase more than 2 billion doses using money donated by wealthier countries, though not all of those vaccines have been authorized for use yet. Trump declined to participate in the global effort, insisting his focus must be on providing shots to Americans. But while there are expected to be enough vaccines available to inoculate every American by summer's end, many countries may need to wait years for enough doses for their populations.

"This pledge to COVAX does not impact the vaccination program in the United States at all", an official said.

That is likely to mean the USA will have ample surplus doses that could be donated to poorer nations.

The Biden administration will not share US -purchased coronavirus vaccine doses with poorer countries until most Americans are vaccinated, officials told Politico on Thursday. The Biden administration is looking to develop a framework to donate excess vaccines "once there is a sufficient supply in the USA".

In an interview with Britain's Financial Times, French President Emmanuel Macron called on the USA and European nations to allocate up to 5 per cent of current vaccine supplies to developing countries - the kind of vaccine diplomacy that China and Russian Federation have begun deploying.

China also plans to expand distribution to United Nations peacekeeping forces, he told the 15-member organisation, adding Beijing would "not attach political conditions" to vaccine distributions.

COVAX is finalizing the first and second quarter allocations of the vaccine to participants in the COVAX facility, a joint project of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), and WHO.

"This huge excess is the embodiment of vaccine nationalism", said Jenny Ottenhoff, ONE Campaign's senior director for policy.

Last week, the White House said it was wary of those efforts.

The U. S.is committed to working through COVAX to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines and funding globally, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday. "But we are - we watch those actions with concern".

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