The Biden administration will not share U.S.-purchased coronavirus vaccine doses with poorer countries until most Americans are vaccinated, officials told Politico on Thursday.
The news comes a day before President Joe Biden’s virtual G7 appearance, where global concerns about vaccine inequities are to be discussed.
“While we’re not able to share vaccine doses at this time, while we’re focused on American vaccinations and getting shots into arms here, we’re working hard to support COVAX, strengthen global vaccination around the world, and determining the timeline for when we will have a sufficient supply in the United States and be able to donate surplus vaccines,” the official said, per Politico.
While there will not be vaccines supplied, the Biden administration is committing cash to the COVAX cause, including $4 billion passed by Congress for poorer countries in past coronavirus relief bills, the official told Politico.
There has been pressure on Biden to donate a percentage of the U.S. vaccine allotment to poorer countries, including from France’s Emmanuel Macron. Macron reportedly plans to press wealthier countries like the U.S. to commit 3-5% of its vaccine doses to poorer countries at the G7.
Macron has expressed concern about a “war of influence over vaccines” by China and Russia. Both countries have committed to provide vaccines to poorer countries, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week the administration is watching “those actions with concern,” per the report.
President Biden has noted publicly the U.S. is anticipating having enough vaccines to inoculate the entire country by late summer, having secured the dosage commitments from both Pfizer and Moderna two-doses vaccines that have emergency-use approval through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The COVAX program to vaccinate the poorer countries around the world is expected to cost $15 billion worldwide, $4 billion of which will come from the U.S. over the next few years, including $500 million right away, per the report.
COVAX “is one of the best ways to expand access to COVID vaccines,” the Biden official told Politico.