Biden to commit $4 billion in funding to global vaccine initiative
President Biden will announce Friday that the United States is sending $4 billion to Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to support Covax, the global initiative to develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines to lower income countries.
The $4 billion amount includes $2 billion in funding that will go out immediately.
Biden will make the announcement during an appearance at a virtual meeting of Group of Seven (G7) leaders on Friday, according to senior administration officials.
In addition to the $2 billion in immediate assistance, Biden will commit to gradually releasing another $2 billion in funding to Gavi as part of an effort by the U.S. to secure more donor commitments to the vaccine program.
The $4 billion in funding for Gavi was previously appropriated by Congress in bipartisan coronavirus relief and government funding legislation passed in December. Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation are running Covax together. The goal of Covax is to vaccinate 20 percent of the populations of the world’s lowest-income countries by the end of this year.
The Biden administration said the funding is necessary to bring an end to the pandemic worldwide, reduce the risk of disease to the American population and heal the global economy.
“This pandemic is not going to end if we don’t end it globally,” a senior administration official told reporters. “In addition to saving a lot of lives … it’s also the right thing to do form an international security and economic perspective.”
On his second day in office, Biden signed a memorandum directing his administration to join Covax after former President Trump declined to join the effort last year. More than 190 countries are now participating in Covax, an effort that covers most of the world, with the exception of Russia.
Biden also reversed the Trump administration’s plans to withdraw from the WHO.
The announcement Friday will mark the latest effort by Biden to take a different approach than his predecessor to tackling the coronavirus and emphasize the need for global cooperation in defeating the disease. The virus has killed close to half a million Americans and nearly 2.5 million worldwide over the past year.
Trump signed into law the legislation that provided the $4 billion in funding for Gavi in late December, after criticizing the bill and suggesting he might veto it.
Biden administration officials said that the initial $2 billion will go out to Gavi almost immediately, within days or weeks.
The administration intends to release the next $2 billion gradually over the next two years in order to help encourage new donor commitments to support the vaccine supply and distribution to low- and middle-income countries. Officials said that Biden would call on other G7 partners to make good on their pledges on Friday and also encourage other countries to make contributions to support Covax.
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