Biden Pledges to Export Millions of FDA-Authorized Vaccines
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said the U.S. will share at least 20 million doses of U.S.-authorized Covid-19 vaccines with foreign nations by the end of June, the first time his administration will release doses abroad that could have been used domestically.
Biden said Monday he’ll export 20 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. or Johnson & Johnson, on top of 60 million AstraZeneca Plc doses he had already planned to give to other countries. The AstraZeneca vaccine lacks Food and Drug Administration approval for U.S. use.
“It’s the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, it’s the strong thing to do,” Biden said at the White House. By the end of June, he said, the U.S. will have taken delivery of enough doses of the authorized vaccines to inoculate its entire population age 12 and older.
Biden’s move is a watershed moment that signals the U.S. is turning a corner, with vaccine supply now sufficiently out-pacing demand. Biden said he would work with international agencies to decide which countries receive U.S. doses, and that he wouldn’t use the shots for diplomatic leverage, accusing China and Russia of doing so.
“Our nation is going to be the arsenal of vaccines for the rest of the world. We’ll share these vaccines in the service of ending the pandemic everywhere and we will not use our vaccines to secure favors from other countries,” he said.
Biden said he would work with other democracies to “coordinate a multilateral effort to end this pandemic” and that he expects to “announce progress in this area at the G-7 summit in the United Kingdom in June.”
Biden stressed that the measures are only a first step as the U.S. pivots its attention to quelling the pandemic abroad. Biden also said that he is putting Jeff Zients, who has served as the White House coronavirus response coordinator, in charge of his effort to beat back the pandemic globally. Zients will work with the National Security Council and other agencies to steer doses abroad.
The president is able to turn more attention to the pandemic overseas thanks to progress combating it at home. The U.S. recorded the fewest number of new cases since March 2020 on Sunday and most of the country has begun to relax masking and social distancing requirements.
Biden also cautioned Americans to remain vigilant and get their shots. “We’re still losing too many Americans and we still have too many unvaccinated people in America,” Biden said. “Getting vaccinated has never been easier.”
He said Tuesday’s data would show that the U.S. has now given 60% of U.S. adults at least one shot. Biden has set a goal of hitting 70% by July 4.
The U.S. exported virtually no vaccines during the initial roll-out after Biden -- and Donald Trump before him -- secured nearly all American production for domestic use. Now, Biden is sharing doses he controls, and Pfizer has begun to export doses as it concurrently fills U.S. orders.
Biden on Monday signaled plans to increase vaccine production by working with pharmaceutical giants and other countries.
“The United States will continue to donate our excess supply as that supply is delivered to us, but that won’t be nearly enough. What we need to do is lead an entirely new effort,” he said. “We’re going to be asking other nations to help shoulder the economic cost of this effort, but the consequences will be more lasting and more dramatic.”
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