The United States has thus far administered 160 million doses to poor nations with vaccination rates far below the standard of wealthier nations, with more than 400 million on the way. Biden reportedly has intentions to announce at a White House COVID-19 summit on Wednesday that the U.S. is ordering 500 million additional doses designated for donation from Pfizer.
This puts America’s contribution at more than 1 billion doses, which is still much less than the 11 billion the World Health Organization estimates will be required to reach 70% of the world's population.
Low vaccination rates in impoverished nations worry global leaders, with many at the Tuesday opening of the United Nations General Assembly asking wealthy nations to increase their donations of vaccine doses. The U.N. further wants 70% of each nation's population vaccinated before the U.N. meeting next September.
“A majority of the wealthier world is vaccinated. Over 90% of Africans are still waiting for their first dose,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced. “This is a moral indictment of the state of our world.”
The White House has argued that it can both prepare for offering booster shots while also helping other parts of the world. The U.S. has so far shipped almost 160 million doses to 100 countries around the world, a number that exceeds all other donations combined, a U.S. official told reporters ahead of the summit.
The new tranche of Pfizer doses will be made in U.S. plants and will be purchased at a "not-for-profit" price, the officials stated. Most U.S. vaccine shipments — 800 million doses — will ship between January and September 2022.
Biden will address at the start of the summit, and Vice President Harris will lead another session. In total, it's supposed to last over three hours and will include approximately 30 speakers, including six heads of state. Officials from over 100 nations and over 100 organizations, private sector companies and philanthropists are expected to participate.
The White House wants to establish specific targets for vaccines as well as donations of oxygen, tests, therapeutics and protective gear to parts of the world that need it — and work on a health security financing mechanism so that the world is more ready for future pandemics. Leading up to the summit, the White House made a series of specific requests for commitments from participants — a list that officials announced would be revealed at the end of the summit.