Administration

White House says US has donated 110M coronavirus vaccine doses abroad

The White House said Tuesday that the United States has donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to more than 60 countries.

The development marks a significant milestone in the global fight against COVID-19. It comes two months after the Biden administration unveiled its plan to share vaccines globally amid pressure from the public health community and some lawmakers in Washington to donate excess vaccine doses. The White House missed its initial goal of sharing 80 million vaccine doses by the end of June.

President Biden is expected to announce the milestone during an address on vaccinations Tuesday afternoon.

The majority of the 110 million doses was shared through COVAX, the World Health Organization-backed global vaccine initiative that works to share vaccine doses with poorer nations. Countries that received the largest number doses include Indonesia, the Philippines, Colombia, South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam.

The rest of the vaccines were shared directly with regional partners hand-picked by the administration, such as Mexico and Canada.

"Our goals are to increase global COVID-19 vaccination coverage, prepare for surges and prioritize healthcare workers and other vulnerable populations based on public health data and acknowledged best practice, and help our neighbors and other countries in need," the White House said in a fact sheet. "Importantly, the United States has not and will not use its vaccines to secure favors from other countries. Our aim is to save lives."

The White House described the 110 million doses as a "down payment" on Biden's larger pledge to share vaccines with countries in need. Biden in June pledged to donate 500 million doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine to other countries.

"These more than 110 million doses - that are already saving lives around the world - are just the beginning of the Administration's efforts to provide vaccines to the world," the fact sheet released on Tuesday says. "Starting at the end of this month, the Administration will begin shipping a half a billion Pfizer doses that the United States has pledged to purchase and donate to 100 low- income countries in need."

The 500 million doses Biden has pledged will be sent to 92 lower-income countries. Two hundred million doses will be available this year, according to the administration, while the remaining 300 million will be distributed in the first half of 2022.

Together, the leaders of the Group of Seven countries agreed at a summit in June to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries over the coming year. The World Health Organization has estimated that 11 billion doses will be needed to vaccinate 70 percent of the global population.

While Biden is expected to focus in part on the global fight against the virus on Tuesday, he may also zero in on the situation in the U.S., where coronavirus cases have risen again after a steep decline.

The Biden administration is trying to convince Americans who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so as soon as possible, citing the danger of the more contagious delta variant.

The U.S. on Monday finally hit Biden's Fourth of July goal of vaccinating 70 percent of U.S. adults with at least one dose of vaccine, about a month late. Administration officials have also commended a rise in vaccination rates over the last week.

Still, Biden has entered a more difficult stretch in his administration's virus response, particularly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its mask guidance to instruct vaccinated Americans in areas of high transmission to wear face coverings indoors. The new guidance was based on data showing that in rare cases where vaccinated Americans contract the virus, they can spread it as easily as unvaccinated Americans. The guidance has caused some confusion and criticism.

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