The United States is shipping more than 2.2 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine to South Africa that are set to arrive on Saturday, according to a White House official.
The 2,217,150 doses are being donated through the global vaccination program Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, or COVAX, the official said. Cumulatively, the US will have donated nearly 8 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to South Africa.
These latest doses are part of President Joe Biden’s pledge to donate 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines to countries around the world. Biden has said he wants America to be an “arsenal of vaccines” in the fight against Covid-19 and has repeatedly stressed there are no strings attached with accepting the vaccines.
Earlier this week, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the US would donate one million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine to Vietnam. The vice president made the announcement during a meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Wednesday.
The latest donation to South Africa comes about a month after the US sent 5.7 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine there, which was its largest bilateral donation to date.
Biden pledged at the Group of Seven summit earlier this year to purchase and donate 500 million Pfizer doses to countries around the world. The first of those doses were shipped out to Rwanda earlier this month.
The move to donate hundreds of millions of vaccines around the world will also serve to counter efforts by Russia and China to use their own state-funded vaccines to expand their global influence. The White House has said it is concerned by efforts by Russia and China to use vaccines to make geopolitical gains.
Officials have said that 200 million of the 500 million doses will be delivered by the end of this year, and the remaining 300 million doses will be delivered in the first half of 2022. About 75% of these vaccines will be shared with COVAX and about 25% will be shared directly with countries in need.
The Biden administration has also already distributed the 80 million doses the President initially pledged to donate from surplus US supply.
The President has also said $2 billion in US contributions would go toward a global coronavirus vaccine initiative and would provide support to COVAX. He also pledged an additional $2 billion in funding contingent on contributions from other nations and dose delivery targets being met.
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