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Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Biden announces US pledge of $4B for COVAX initiative to aid global COVID-19 vaccinations

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With money appropriated by Congress last year, President Joe Biden pledged a total of $4 billion to the global COVAX initiative to get poorer nations access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The announcement, made during a virtual G7 Summit, also encouraged partners within that group of wealthy nations to prioritize a sustainable health security financing mechanism to guarantee the appropriate capacity needed to contain this pandemic and prepare for the next. An initial contribution of $2 billion will be provided to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for COVAX, wherein it will go to support vaccine access for 92 low- and middle-income economies. An additional $2 billion will be released to COVAX through 2021 and 2022.

“COVID has shown us that no nation can act alone in the face of a pandemic,” a White House fact sheet released before the summit said.

In addition to financial commitments, the ONE Campaign, a global health and anti-poverty organization, is also urging the Biden administration to release a formal global plan to share excess COVID-19 vaccines, warning that the United States and other wealthy countries are hoarding scarce vaccine doses, which could extend the lifespan of the ongoing pandemic.

An analysis from ONE labeled the United States and European Union as the worst hoarders worldwide, with an excess of more than 453 million and 464 million, respectively.

“It’s no longer a question of if the United States will get enough shots for everyone who wants one, but what we plan to do with the excess doses we have purchased,” said Tom Hart, North America executive director of the ONE Campaign. “As G7 leaders prepare to meet for the first time since this pandemic started, the Biden administration should show strong global leadership and establish a framework and timeline for a global plan to distribute excess vaccine doses to countries who need it while simultaneously vaccinating the US’ domestic population.”

In his White House announcement ahead of the G7 Summit, Biden committed to the notion that all countries should have the capability to prevent, detect and respond to outbreaks. He also committed the United States to global health security and advancement of the Global Health Security Agenda. At the G7, the White House said he intended to urge the world to protect the most vulnerable and encourage action from the global community to guarantee vaccination of vulnerable populations.

In addition to the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed Friday new commitments to COVAX and vaccine equity from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland.

“There is a growing movement behind vaccine equity, and I welcome that world leaders are stepping up to the challenge by making new commitments to effectively end this pandemic by sharing doses and increasing funds to COVAX,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “This can’t be business as usual, and there is an urgent need for countries to share doses and technology, scale up manufacturing and ensure that there is a sustainable supply of vaccines so that everyone, everywhere can receive a vaccine.”