President Joe Biden’s announced Thursday evening that the United States plans to donate 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses globally as part of his efforts to reassert US leadership on the world stage.
"America knows first-hand the tragedy of this pandemic. We’ve had more people die in the United States than anywhere in the world, nearly 600,000 of our fellow Americans," Biden said in remarks after meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
He added, "We know the tragedy. We also know the path to recovery."
The move will also serve to counter efforts by Russia and China to use their own state-funded vaccines to expand their global influence.
"American workers will now produce vaccines that save lives of people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean — people they will never meet and have never met. Places they’ve never visited and probably won’t have an opportunity to. But lives saved all the same, thanks to American leadership, American workers, hard work and values," Biden said on Thursday.
Hundreds of millions of doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, along with China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm shots, have been making their way around the world. Only the Sinopharm vaccine has been accepted into the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative.
Many countries — including in Latin America, which has traditionally been an area of US influence — have been buying up large numbers of Russian and Chinese vaccines to fill the gaps in their own vaccine rollouts.
The White House has said it has been monitoring and is concerned by efforts by Russia and China to use vaccines to make geopolitical gains.
During remarks announcing the vaccine purchase, Biden underscored that there were no strings attached with accepting the US-bought vaccines.
‘Let me be clear: Just as with the 80 million doses we previously announced, the United States is providing these half-(billion) doses with no strings attached," Biden said. "Our vaccine donations don’t include pressure for favors or potential concessions. We’re doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic. That’s it. Period."
Administration officials suggested the move is part of a broader effort for the world’s democracies to lead the way in pandemic recovery.
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