Ns News Online Desk: The US is to donate 500 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine to developing nations from next year. President Joe Biden made the pledge at a virtual Covid-19 summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, promising an “arsenal of vaccines”.
The additional jabs will see the total US commitment on vaccine sharing exceed one billion jabs. Experts say some 11 billion doses are required to vaccinate at least 70% of the global population.
The World Health Organization has set a minimum target of 40% vaccine coverage in every country by the end of 2021. But the goal is unlikely to be met.
While many high-income countries have now given at least one shot to more than half their populations, only 2% of people in low-income countries have had their first dose, according to data from the University of Oxford.The White House’s Covid summit comes as research shows rich countries are still holding surpluses of vaccines, many of which could soon be thrown out.
In June, members of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – pledged to donate one billion doses to poor countries over the next year. President Biden pledged 580m at the time, of which the US has delivered only 160m so far.The donated vaccines are routed through Covax, the global scheme supported by the WHO to get doses where they’re needed most.
Covax purchases and then sells vaccines at low-cost to middle income countries and donates to poor countries. In the US – where more than 76% of adults have received at least one dose – criticism that the country is doing too little to help the rest of the world has grown.
On Friday, a panel advising the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended booster shots – third doses – of the Pfizer vaccine for people 65 and over.
The WHO has previously called on wealthier nations to hold off on providing boosters until vaccination rates go up in lesser developed countries. Last week, in a letter to Mr Biden, eight lawmakers of his own party wrote: “Clearly, there is an inequitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccine doses, and it is getting worse.”