Oroville Mercury-Register

Biden doubles US global donation of vaccine shots

- By Zeke Miller

President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the United States is doubling its purchase of Pfizer’s COVID-19 shots to share with the world to 1 billion doses as he embraces the goal of vaccinatin­g 70% of the global population within the next year.

The stepped-up U.S. commitment marks the cornerston­e of the global vaccinatio­n summit Biden convened virtually on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, where he encouraged well-off nations to do more to get the coronaviru­s under control. It comes as world leaders, aid groups and global health organizati­ons have growing increasing­ly vocal about the slow pace of global vaccinatio­ns and the inequity of access to shots between residents of wealthier and poorer nations.

“Global health security until now has failed, to the tune of 4.5 million lives, and counting,” UN Secretary General António Guterres told the summit, referring to the confirmed global death toll from the coronaviru­s. “We have effective vaccines against COVID-19. We can end the pandemic. And that is why I have been appealing for a global vaccinatio­n plan and I hope this summit is a step in that direction.”

The U.S. purchase of another 500 million shots brings the total U.S. vaccinatio­n commitment to more than 1.1 billion doses through 2022. About 160 million shots supplied by the U.S. have already been distribute­d to more than 100 countries, representi­ng more donations than the rest of the world combined. The remaining American doses will be distribute­d over the coming year.

“To beat the pandemic here, we need to beat it everywhere,” Biden said. He added that with the new commitment­s, “For every one shot we’ve administer­ed to date in America, we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world.”

The latest purchase reflects only a fraction of what will be necessary to meet a goal of vaccinatin­g 70% of the global population — and 70% of the citizens of each nation — by next September’s U.N. meeting. It’s a target pushed by global aid groups that Biden threw his weight behind.

Biden is pressing other countries to do more in their vaccine sharing plans.

“We need other high income countries to deliver on their own ambitious vaccine donations and pledges,” Biden said. He called on wealthy countries to commit to donating, rather than selling the shots to poorer nations.

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