Shots Heard ‘Round the World: How US Vaccines Will Voyage Abroad

The Biden administration released blueprints Thursday for how it plans to share millions of U.S.-owned Covid-19 vaccines with the rest of the world.

Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID vaccination program, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Laying the groundwork to distribute 25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from U.S. reserves, the White House cemented plans Thursday to allocate around three-quarters of these doses through the worldwide vaccine initiative Covax.

These 25 million vaccines are the first of 80 million doses President Joe Biden promised last month for international distribution. 

The U.S. is sharing vaccines from its own arsenal as part of the national strategy to defeat Covid-19, the White House reiterated Thursday, adding it hopes the action will encourage other countries to do the same.

For the last several months, the U.S. has seen cases of Covid-19 plummet in lockstep with the increasing number of Americans getting vaccinated. Biden added Thursday that worldwide vaccine sharing plan is designed to end the spread of Covid-19 as soon as possible.

“We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions,” Biden said in a statement Thursday. “We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values.”

Covax will be responsible for distributing about 75% of the U.S. vaccines — nearly 19 million doses all together — giving priority to vulnerable countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa. 

In South and Central America, around 6 million will be sent to Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 

In Asia, close to 7 million will be dispersed across India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan and the Pacific Islands.

And in Africa, nearly 5 million will go to countries yet to be decided by the United States and the African Union.

The White House said the remaining 6 million of these first 25 million vaccines will go to countries experiencing surges, immediate neighbors like Canada and Mexico, and those who request immediate assistance. Countries on this list include the Republic of Korea, West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Haiti, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Yemen. The White House will also send some vaccines for United Nations frontline workers, it said.  

Which vaccines are sent where “will be determined and shared as the administration works through the logistical, regulatory and other parameters particular to each region and country,” the White House said.

The U.S. has already shared more than 4 million doses with Canada and Mexico. The president said he plans to further develop the global vaccine sharing strategy with U.S. allies at the G7 summit in the United Kingdom this month.

Biden added in his statement Thursday that the U.S. has launched partnerships so that more vaccines can be made around the world. He said the government also “supports efforts to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines,” so that more companies can work on manufacturing vaccines that have already proved safe and effective

“As long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable,” the president said. “And the United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.”

More than 168 million Americans have already received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, with 136 million Americans considered fully vaccinated. The goal set by the White House is to have at least 160 million people fully inoculated by the Fourth of July. Deaths in the U.S. are now at their lowest level since the pandemic first gripped America last year.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration declared June a “national month of action,” backing kitschy new incentives like free beer and cruise sweepstakes entries to keep vaccination rates up and Covid-19 muzzled with Independence Day now looming just a month away.

The president indicated that the White House will have more details on how it will share additional doses with the rest of the globe in the days to come.

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