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Biden touts ‘monumental commitment’ to send 500M Covid vaccine doses abroad

POLITICO logo POLITICO 6/10/2021 By Nick Niedzwiadek
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President Joe Biden speaks about his administration's global Covid-19 vaccination efforts ahead of the G-7 summit on Thursday in St. Ives, England. © Patrick Semansky/AP Photo President Joe Biden speaks about his administration's global Covid-19 vaccination efforts ahead of the G-7 summit on Thursday in St. Ives, England.

President Joe Biden on Thursday formally announced U.S. plans to procure and donate 500 million Covid-19 vaccine doses while making his first overseas trip, as part of a speech steeped in the imagery of World War II and other eras defined by their need for urgent collective action.

“This is a monumental commitment by the American people,” Biden said in St. Ives, England. “We’re a nation full of people who step up in times of need to help our fellow human beings, both at home and abroad. We’re not perfect, but we step up.”

Vaccines procured as part of this effort will begin being sent out in August, with roughly 200 million doses expected to be delivered by the end of the year, Biden said.

“In this moment, our values call on us to do everything that we can to vaccinate the world against Covid-19,” he said, adding that it was in the United States’ self-interest to do so.

Word of the White House’s plan trickled out in the lead-up to Biden’s trip across the Atlantic. The doses are being procured from Pfizer and are part of a two-dose schedule. During his remarks, Biden emphasized the sizable portion of the overall commitment that will be set aside for less-affluent nations.


Video: Biden lays out plan to share 25 million COVID-19 vaccine doses with the world (Reuters)

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The plan, which was negotiated by the Biden administration and the company over the past several weeks, nearly doubles the federal government’s original plan to purchase up to 600 million doses from Pfizer. The U.S’s vaccine strategy has irked some allies — such as Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who is scheduled to meet with Biden on Tuesday — who think it has strained production capacity in Europe and elsewhere.

The president, as he had in the run-up to Thursday’s event, also emphasized that the 500 million donated doses would come with “no strings attached” — in contrast to how China and Russia have used vaccines developed within their borders to further their geopolitical interests.

“This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation to save as many lives as we can,” he said. “In times of trouble, Americans reach out to offer help and offer a helping hand.”

Biden’s announcement comes before several of the world’s leaders are scheduled to congregate in Cornwall for a G-7 summit, where they are also expected to roll out a similar goodwill vaccine gesture.

“While great progress has been made in many developed nations, the world is now asking the G-7 leaders to shoulder the responsibility to help vaccinate people in all countries,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said following Biden’s remarks.

Biden’s speech came at the end of a day spent with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in which the pair vowed to redouble the bonds between the two countries and their mutual national interests while skirting their respective political differences.

As part of day’s events, they laid out their “global vision” through a symbolic update to the Atlantic Charter of 1941, a statement first issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill that served as a basis for the countries’ post-WWII relationship.

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