Biden desires to pledge billions for international efforts

A health worker applies a Sinovac CoronaVac Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccine to an elderly Citzen on February 18, 2021 in Sao Goncalo, near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ricardo Moraes | Reuters

President Joe Biden is expected to announce Friday that the US will be spending $ 4 billion on international Covid vaccination efforts, White House officials said.

During his first virtual meeting as president with G7 leaders, Biden will also encourage other nations to pledge more money for the global fight against the pandemic, officials told reporters in a conference call on Thursday afternoon.

“This pandemic will not end if we don’t end it globally,” said an official, while noting that vaccinating Americans remains the government’s “top priority”.

“But pandemics travel,” the official said, “and the more diseases there are, the more likely we are to see additional mutations and variants.”

The funds were provided by Congress under the Covid Relief Act, which was incorporated into law in late December with overwhelming support from both parties, despite former President Donald Trump describing the package as a “disgrace”.

The Biden government plans to donate half of that $ 4 billion “almost immediately” to the Gavi nonprofit global vaccination alliance, an official said.

Gavi is the co-head of COVAX, an international initiative aimed at improving access to Covid vaccines. The initial $ 2 billion shipment from the United States aims to improve access to Covid vaccines for 92 low and middle income economies supported by COVAX’s Advance Market Commitment.

The government plans to spend the remaining $ 2 billion gradually through 2022, officials said, with the aim of encouraging other donors to increase their contributions.

“We basically want to turn this into a way to convert $ 2 billion into billions of dollars,” an official said in the call, setting a target of at least $ 15 billion for “what is likely.” is required to actually increase the delivery of the vaccine around the world. “

The government stressed that the global funding will have no impact on the US domestic vaccination program. Officials said if Congress passes Covid’s additional bill, pushed by Biden lawmakers and the Democrats, they expect to ensure adequate vaccine supplies to meet their schedule goals.

“If we have adequate supplies, we may want to consider donating excess vaccines,” said an overseas official.

When asked the importance of supporting global vaccination efforts, one official said, “In addition to saving many lives … it is also the right thing to do to help everyone in America from a national security and economic perspective.”

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