US to buy 500 mn Pfizer Covid vax doses to donate to 100 countries


US President Joe Biden’s administration plans to buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and donate them among about 100 countries over the next year, according to media reports on Thursday, citing people familiar with the plan.

According to the plan, the US will pay for the doses at a “not for profit” price, which will be distributed through COVAX — the international vaccine-sharing initiative.

While the first 200 million doses will be distributed by the end of this year, another 300 million will be distributed by June 2021.

Biden, who has been facing pressure to aggressively address the global coronavirus vaccine shortage, is set to announce the plan ahead of his eight-day European trip, the New York Times reported.

“We have to end Covid-19, not just at home, which we’re doing, but everywhere,” Biden was quoted as saying.

“There’s no wall high enough to keep us safe from this pandemic or the next biological threat we face, and there will be others. It requires coordinated multilateral action,” he added.

The 500 million doses are in addition to the earlier contracted deal between the US and Pfizer for 300 million doses of two shots vaccine for the country.

Early, this month, the Biden administration had announced sharing at least 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of June. Of these 25 million doses will be distributed this month to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America; South and Southeast Asia; Africa; and the Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank. The remaining 75 per cent of these vaccines will be distributed through COVAX, the White House said in a statement.

The 500 million doses, however, still fall far short of the 11 billion the World Health Organization estimates are needed to vaccinate the world.

Less than 1 per cent of people are fully vaccinated in a number of African countries, compared with 42 per cent in the US and the UK.

“The world needs urgent new manufacturing to produce billions more doses within a year, not just commitments to buy the planned inadequate supply,a Peter Maybarduk, the director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines programme, said in a statement.

“We have yet to see a plan from the US government or the G7 of the needed ambition or urgency to make billions more doses and end the pandemic,” he added.