President Biden is set on Friday to announce a total of $4 billion in contributions to COVAX, the vaccine alliance trying to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries, a senior administration official told reporters.
Biden will make the announcement during a virtual meeting of G-7 leaders about the pandemic.
The funding for the program — which is co-run by the World Health Organization — includes an initial contribution of $2 billion that Congress appropriated in December. That funding should go out by the end of the month, the official said. In addition, Biden will pledge another $2 billion through 2021 and 2022. The first $500 million of that pledge will be available "rather quickly" to help spur other donations, the official said.
"This pandemic is not going to end unless we end it globally," the official told reporters, noting the risk of new coronavirus variants developing and spreading.
The official said the funding would not affect the program to vaccinate U.S. residents, noting the government is on track to have a large enough supply of vaccine— 600 million doses— for domestic needs by the end of July. If there are vaccines left over from the domestic program, the Biden administration plans to look for ways to donate that to the COVAX program, but no decisions on that have yet been made.
Biden on Friday will urge G-7 and G-20 partners, and others, to put forward their own contributions to COVAX to help expand the supply and distribution for vaccines, the official said. The vaccine alliance GAVI, which helps lead COVAX, said in November that more than $2 billion had been pledged to buy vaccines, but at least $5 billion more was needed.
The U.S. contribution of $4 billion "gets us a lot closer to the GAVI target," which aims to vaccinate 20% of the people living in the 92 countries, the official said. But the Biden administration believes that as much as $15 billion is needed from international donors to expand vaccine supply and boost distribution.
Globally, there have been roughly 110 million cases of the coronavirus. Some 2.43 million people have died from the virus.
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