Biden to Pledge $4 Billion to Vaccine Program for Poorer Nations

The U.S. will contribute as much as $4 billion to Covax, the global effort to fund vaccinations in lower-income countries, but doesn’t plan on shipping any of its own vaccines abroad until the nation’s own demand has been met, officials familiar with the matter said.

President Joe Biden will announce during a Group of Seven call on Friday that the U.S. will commit $2 billion immediately to the program and pledge another $2 billion with conditions designed to spur contributions from other countries, said the officials, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity.

Former president Donald Trump’s administration had declined to support the World Health Organization-backed Covax system, as he complained the WHO was bowing to Chinese influence and demanded changes.

The funding, which was allocated by Congress in December, is aimed at spurring a wave of donations to help the program procure and deliver vaccines to low and lower-middle income countries abroad, the officials said. The pandemic will only end when it’s eradicated across the world, they added.

The U.S. has already ordered enough vaccines for at least 300 million adults, and at least 400 million if Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine wins approval for use in the coming weeks. Biden’s administration is considering how to donate surplus doses abroad but won’t do so until people in the U.S. have been widely vaccinated, the officials said.

After the first $2 billion payment, an additional $500 million will be delivered when existing donor pledges are fulfilled and when recipient nations receive first doses, the officials said. The remaining $1.5 billion will depend on other countries making new pledges of their own, but the officials didn’t specify criteria.

Covax allows countries, including wealthy ones, to tap into vaccine supplies. The U.S. isn’t planning to do so at this time, an official said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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