QCOSTARICA – United States President Joe Biden announced on Monday that his country will increase exports of covid-19 vaccines to other countries to regain “leadership” in the global fight against the pandemic, surpassing the rival efforts of China and Russia.
Biden confirmed that 20 million more doses will be shipped in the next six weeks, bringing the expected total for the end of June to 80 million.
This momentum is due to pressure from other governments on the Biden administration to use its large surplus of vaccines to help countries in difficulty, now that significant progress has been made in deploying the doses in the United States.
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The initiative also responds to concerns that Moscow and Beijing have taken advantage of the global crisis to extend their influence by distributing their own national vaccines.
“By July, the United States will have easily established its place as a leader in this scenario,” Biden said.
“This will mean more vaccines than any country has shared today, five times more than any other country,” the president declared in a speech at the White House.
“Russia and China … have donated 15 million doses. There is a lot of talk about Russia and China influencing the world with vaccines. We want to lead the world with our values,” he added. “We will not use our vaccines to get favors from other countries,” he said, however.
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The White House would not say which countries are being prioritized for shipments, but Biden noted that Washington will do what it can to help India cope with an increase in the pandemic.
60 million initial doses have already been promised. All of them will be from AstraZeneca, a British-developed vaccine that has yet to be used in the United States and that seems increasingly unlikely to be needed.
Exports will begin as soon as the US health authorities give their approval.
The U.S. president said the next wave of 20 million doses would also include licensed vaccines used in the United States: those from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
Biden viewed America’s effort to help other countries as morally and medically necessary.
“We know that the United States will never be totally safe until the pandemic that is raging around the world is under control. No ocean is wide enough, no wall is high enough to keep us safe,” he said.
“We have to fight disease around the world to stay safe here at home, and to do the right thing to help other people: it is the right thing to do, it is the smart thing, it is the strong thing,” she added.
Concern for the soft power of Russia and China is also clearly on the U.S. president’s mind.
Biden highlighted the efforts of the United States to lead the “democracies of the world” in a “multilateral effort to end this pandemic.”
“I look forward to announcing progress in this area at the G7 summit” to be held in Britain next month, he said. “Just as democracies led the world in the darkness of World War II, democracy will lead the world out of this pandemic.”
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