Reuters – The Biden government plans to donate 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to nearly 100 countries over the next two years, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
The United States is expected to hand out 200 million shots this year and another 300 million in the first half of next year, it said.
It will donate them to 92 low-income countries and the African Union, they added.
The donations will flow through the COVAX vaccine program, which distributes COVID-19 vaccinations to low and middle income countries and is supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).
US President Joe Biden will announce the deal on Thursday at the meeting of the group of the richest countries in the world in Britain, one of the people said.
The deal has been negotiated over the past four weeks by the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients and the COVID-19 Task Force team, one of the sources said.
The White House and Pfizer declined to comment.
The US president told reporters prior to boarding Air Force One for the UK that he had a global vaccine strategy and would announce it but did not give details.
The White House is under increasing pressure to increase COVID-19 vaccination donations to other countries.
The United States has given at least one vaccination and started vaccinating adolescents to around 64% of its adult population, while other countries such as Brazil and India are struggling to get much-needed doses.
“This action sends an incredibly powerful message about America’s commitment to help the world fight this pandemic,” said Tom Hart, acting executive director of The ONE Campaign, a nonprofit working to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases by 2030 begins.
The Biden government had announced that it would distribute 80 million doses of vaccine worldwide by the end of June. The White House pledged $ 4 billion to COVAX earlier this year and urged other countries to increase donations too.
GAVI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pfizer has announced it will produce up to 3 billion COVID-19 shots in 2021 and more than 4 billion in the next year.
The New York Times reported that the United States will buy the cans at a “not for profit” price, citing people familiar with the deal. They also reported that Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla Biden will accompany the announcement.
The agreement is in addition to the 300 million shots the United States has already bought from Pfizer and brings the total number of Pfizer / BioNTech shots bought by the United States to 800 million, the Times said.
(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Allison Martell; editing by Howard Goller and Bill Berkrot)