The United States will begin shipping more than 3 million additional Covid-19 vaccines to certain Central American countries on Tuesday, a White House official told CNN.
The US plans to send ship 1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Honduras and 1.5 million Moderna doses to El Salvador through the global vaccination program called Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, or COVAX, adding to prior shipments provided to both countries this year. The US will also provide 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Panama in a bilateral donation, the official said. White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Monday that the US was also sending 3 million vaccines to Guatemala, after shipping 1.5 million Moderna doses there earlier this month.
“Scientific teams and legal and regulatory authorities from both countries have worked together to ensure the prompt delivery of safe and effective vaccine lots to the three countries,” the official said.
The shipments are part of an ongoing effort by the Biden administration to provide Covid-19 vaccines to other countries and reassert US leadership on the world stage. Sending the vaccines to Latin America will also serve to counter efforts by Russia and China to use their own state-funded vaccines to expand their influence in the region and across the globe.
The White House has said it has been monitoring and is concerned by efforts by Russia and China to use vaccines to make geopolitical gains. Many countries — including in Latin America, which has traditionally been an area of US influence — have been buying up large numbers of Russian and Chinese vaccines to fill the gaps in their own vaccine rollouts.
Over recent weeks, the US has announced a series of vaccine shipments. Psaki also said Monday that more than 1 million Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines were set to go to Gambia, Senegal, Zambia and Niger.
“The United States continues its tremendous effort to donate Covid-19 vaccines from the US global supply,” Psaki said, adding: “The shipments demonstrate the United States is fulfilling our promise to be an arsenal of vaccines for the world, and we’re proud to be donating these doses to save lives and help those in need.”
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