The U.S. Is Finally Donating Covid-19 Vaccines Abroad. We Need to Do More.
Here’s what must be done to get the world vaccinated
The pandemic is splitting in two. While the U.S. and other wealthy nations vaccinate their way out of the nightmare, Covid-19 is raging around the world. Globally, new case counts have risen for nine consecutive weeks — and are now at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic. Despite this, just 0.2% of all Covid vaccines are going to low-income countries.
That’s why the recent White House commitment to share 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine came as welcome news.
For humanitarian, public health, and economic reasons, it’s imperative the U.S. does more to get the rest of the world vaccinated against Covid-19. Sharing the AstraZeneca vaccine doses is an important first step. The U.S. must do more.
How the U.S. has contributed so far
Before announcing the vaccine donation, the U.S. had already contributed to expanding global vaccine supplies and access. In February 2021, the U.S. committed $4 billion to Covax, the World Health Organization initiative to deliver Covid vaccines equitably to countries around the world.
And in March 2021, the U.S. joined a “Quad” partnership with Australia, Japan, and India to expand vaccine manufacturing in India to produce at least 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2022.
But outside of loaning 4 million vaccine doses to Canada and Mexico in March, the April 26 AstraZeneca announcement was the first time the U.S. publicly committed to sharing vaccine doses globally.
This act of generosity is a welcome commitment to global solidarity, but it’s hardly enough given how well-resourced Americans are when it comes to pharmaceuticals. The U.S. will soon be awash in excess vaccine doses. Let me restate that: As a deadly pandemic sweeps the globe, the U.S. will soon have much more vaccine than it needs.
What the U.S. can do now
The U.S. has secured deals for over 1.2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines from six companies. That’s more than enough to vaccinate every American several…