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Biden makes global vaccine pledge during virtual summit

September 22, 2021

The US will buy another 500 million vaccines to share with the world, President Joe Biden said. He also announced the launch of a EU-US vaccine partnership for closer transatlantic cooperation.

President Joe Biden is seen sitting and wearing a black face mask in the Oval Office
Biden believes wealthy nations should do more to aid in global vaccine distributionImage: Evan Vucci/AP Photo/picture alliance

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday during a virtual coronavirus summit with other leaders that the US will share an additional 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with the rest of the world.  

What is the importance of the pledge?

This announcement will increase the total US vaccine sharing commitment to over 1 billion doses through 2022. The US so far has already donated 160 million doses to over 100 countries.

"To beat the pandemic here, we need to beat it everywhere," Biden said. "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 US president also called on other countries to ramp up their vaccine sharing plans during the meeting, which takes place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

In addition, he announced the launch of a US-EU COVID vaccine partnership to foster transatlantic cooperation on the issue. 

Biden wants 70% of the global population to be vaccinated within the next year. He said the US will provide $370 million (around €315 million) to help in the global distribution of vaccine shots.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who was taking part in the UN meeting in New York, said Wednesday that Spain will donate 7.5 million vaccine doses to Latin America and the Caribbean and another 7.5 million to sub-Saharan Africa and southern Europe. 

First World nations blamed for vaccine drought

The US, along with other major Western countries, have been criticized by the World Health Organization (WHO) for not sharing more doses with developing countries. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreysus has called on wealthy nations to refrain from providing booster shots to their own populations until the end of the year to ensure enough supply for developing countries.

Candice Sehoma, a South Africa-based advocacy officer for Doctors without Borders (MSF), told DW on Wednesday that there is a "global imbalance" in access to vaccines. 

"We're currently seeing large numbers of vaccinated populations in the global north because those countries have stockpiled vaccines, leaving lower and middle income countries scrambling," Sehoma said, while adding that the global COVAX vaccine sharing facility is struggling to procure doses.

She said it was "bizarre" that some wealthier countries are giving booster vaccine doses and called the current charity model of vaccine distribution not "sustainable."

wd/dj (AP, Reuters)