Biden drops US vaccine supplies to send 20 million doses abroad


WASHINGTON – President Biden said on Monday, in response to widespread calls to ramp up his response to the escalating epidemic abroad, that his administration will send 20 million doses of the federally authorized coronavirus vaccine abroad in June – the first time it has pledged to forgo such doses. Can be used in the United States.

The donation is another step toward what Biden promised would be a “brand new effort” to dramatically increase vaccine supplies and expand manufacturing capacity, mostly in the United States. He also appointed Jeffrey Zentes, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator at the White House, responsible for developing a global strategy.

“We know that America will never be completely safe until the global pandemic is brought under control,” Biden said in a brief White House appearance. “There is no perimeter wide enough, and no wall high enough to keep us safe.”

As new infections and deaths decrease as vaccination rates rise in the United States, the epicenter of the crisis has shifted to India and other countries. There has been a growing bipartisan chorus of diplomats, health experts and business leaders The president pushed to do more To end what AIDS activist Asia Russell calls “Apartheid Vaccine.”

Mr. Biden said Monday that 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines – all approved for domestic use – will be sent overseas. This is in addition to the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine pledged last month, although these doses have not been approved for local use and cannot be released until regulators deem them safe.

“It has crossed the threshold to direct donations,” said J. Stephen Morrison, a global health expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who collaborated with three other health institutes on Monday to launch a plan to increase vaccine supplies. “This is an important shift.”

International health activists want more.

“Donating 80 million doses of vaccines without a plan to scale production worldwide is like putting a bandage on a sickle wound,” said longtime AIDS activist Greg Gonsalves.

Biden said that those 80 million doses amounted to five times the number donated by any other country, noting that taking the initiative in helping the world defeat the Corona virus was an opportunity to reassert American authority. The president said that unlike Russia and China, which have sought to use their vaccines as a diplomatic tool, the United States will not expect any concessions in return.

“We want to lead the world with our values, with this evidence of our innovation and creativity, and the core ethics of the American people,” said Biden. “Just as America in World War II was the arsenal of democracy, in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, our nation will be the arsenal of vaccines for the rest of the world.”

Biden’s announcement came shortly after a World Health Organization press conference in which the Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that countries with high vaccination rates should do more to help countries that have been severely affected by the Corona virus, or the whole world will be at risk.

A major disconnect is growing Dr Tedros said: In some countries with the highest vaccination rates, there appears to be a mentality that the epidemic is over, while others are suffering massive waves of infection.

Variables such as B.1.617, Which was first discovered in India and recently identified A variant of anxiety by the World Health OrganizationContribute to the spread of infection and many researchers are concerned.

Dr Tedros called on well-equipped countries to send more vaccine allocations to the most affected countries, and urged vaccine developers and manufacturers to expedite the delivery of hundreds of millions of doses to the most affected countries. Kovacs, Which is an international initiative dedicated to the fair distribution of the vaccine, referring to the call of Henrietta Faure, UNICEF Executive Director.

Mr. Biden took office pledging to restore the United States as the leader in global public health, and took certain steps to do so: Return to the World Health Organization, The pledge of $ 4 billion For international vaccine efforts and providing financial support to help Biological E, the vaccine manufacturer in India, produce at least 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of 2022.

To expand the display further, Mr. Biden announced recently Will support Assignment of intellectual property protection to Coronavirus vaccines. But activists say just supporting the waiver is not enough. They argue that Mr. Biden should create conditions for pharmaceutical companies to transfer their intellectual property to offshore vaccine makers. They view his efforts as piecemeal.

“After 100 days have passed since taking over the administration, what Biden has to present is a global battle plan against apartheid vaccines,” Ms. Russell said, “Today’s announcement is a line of lines on the post-that note,” adding: “There has to be a strategy.” Global led by the United States and based on technology transfer, forcing pharmaceutical companies to come to the negotiating table to share the prescription. “

The pharmaceutical industry opposes a waiver of the Commercial Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement, commonly known as TRIPS. Vaccine manufacturers Confirmation that fix is ​​already within reach They are aggressively expanding production lines and contracting with their counterparts around the world to produce billions of additional doses.

An open letter to the president, released last week by a bipartisan group that includes business leaders, diplomats and a former defense minister, argued that such a waiver “wouldn’t make much of a difference and it could hurt.”

While global health activists strongly support the exemption, some said they welcomed the views of the business community. They see clear parallels with their work fighting the global AIDS epidemic.

“It shows an unprecedented desire on the part of pharmaceutical companies and their allies in the private sector to recognize what we have all been saying for months – the private sector alone cannot and will not guarantee universal access to a vaccine,” said James Krillinstein, founder of PrEP4All, a nonprofit organization that aims to ensure universal access to HIV prevention and treatment, in an email Sunday. He added, “It really shifts the burden to the Biden administration.”

The organizer of the open letter, Hank Greenberg, chairman of Starr Companies and former chairman of the American International Group, the insurance industry giant, said in an interview on Monday that Mr. Biden’s announcement was not enough.

Greenberg, 96, a WWII veteran, said he was inspired by writing after a former AIG CEO who later became ambassador from the Philippines to the United States told him he was unable to get the vaccine. Like Biden, he used language that evoked the war effort.

He asked, “If we don’t do that, who will?”

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