The Biden administration outlined its plans on Thursday for sharing at least 80 million surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses, saying it will distribute 75% of the allotment through COVAX, an international distribution system aimed at helping vaccinate people in the world’s poorest countries.
The first priority for doses shared through COVAX will be Latin America and the Caribbean; South and Southeast Asia; and Africa, the White House said.
One quarter of the 80 million doses will be allocated to countries in immediate need due to surges, to countries that neighbor the U.S. and to other countries that have requested immediate help.
Priority will go to nations with plans in place
The White House said priority will be given to countries with vaccine plans in place that target those at the highest risk of severe disease and those who care for them.
“We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions,” President Biden said in a statement. “We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values.”
In accordance with the administration’s framework, the White House announced approximate allocations for the first 25 million doses that will ship:
- 6 million to South and Central America
- 7 million to Asia
- 5 million to Africa
- 6 million to Mexico, Canada, South Korea, the occupied West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Haiti, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Yemen, as well as United Nations frontline workers
Both Biden and Vice President Harris leave next week on their first official foreign trips and are expected to discuss the U.S. plans for vaccine distribution. Harris is set to travel to Guatemala and Mexico City starting on Sunday, and Biden leaves Wednesday for the U.K., Brussels and Geneva.
Doses will be shared as U.S. cases continue to fall
As the U.S. prepares to donate vaccines abroad, its own COVID-19 numbers continue to improve.
At Thursday’s White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said new coronavirus cases were about 9,300 on Wednesday, and the seven-day average stands at about 15,000, a 94% reduction from the peak reached in January.
Walensky said hospital admissions are down by 83% from January. There were 360 deaths reported yesterday, down 16% from last week, she said.