Biden vows US will be ‘arsenal of vaccination’ for other countries
President Biden on Wednesday vowed that the United States will become an “arsenal of vaccination” for the rest of the world to fight COVID-19.
“As our own vaccine supply grows to meet our needs — and we are meeting them — we will become an arsenal of vaccines for other countries, just as America was the arsenal of democracy in World War 2,” Biden said in a speech before a joint session of Congress.
But Biden said that won’t happen until “every American” has access to a vaccine.
The U.S. supply of vaccines has been rapidly increasing in recent weeks, and everyone over the age of 16 is now eligible to get a shot in every state.
The federal government has been amassing doses, growing its supply into what will likely become a surplus as the rest of the world struggles with shortages.
But vaccines have not yet been authorized for younger children, and most experts don’t expect that to happen until at least the fall.
The administration had initially been reluctant to send any doses overseas, saying the extra doses could be a backstop for possible manufacturing issues, help vaccinating children, or serve as booster doses if they become necessary to fight against variants of the virus.
The U.S. has millions of unused doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in this country, and has come under increased pressure in recent days from lawmakers and public health experts to do more for other countries, particularly India, which is especially hard-hit by the virus.
The White House took some initial steps last month by sending 4 million doses to Canada and Mexico.
On Monday, the White House said it is working to donate up to 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines to other countries, but it will be weeks before they are ready to be shipped, given that the Food and Drug Administration is conducting safety checks on the doses.
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