African nations can expect 5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the United States, according to U.S. President Joe Biden. The commitment was announced Thursday as part of a U.S. plan to send vaccines to low-income nations still waiting for the lifesaving medicine.
Biden described an allocation of the first 25 million doses destined for various parts of the world, with a target of 80 million doses by the end of June. At least 75 percent of the vaccine doses will be distributed in partnership with COVAX, the global vaccine facility led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization.
“We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values,” said Biden. “And we will continue to follow the science and to work in close cooperation with our democratic partners to coordinate a multilateral effort, including through the G7.”
Doses destined for Africa from the U.S. will be coordinated through the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Six million doses are headed for Latin America and the Caribbean, and seven million will go to southern Asian nations.
The rest will go to specific countries experiencing surges in their COVID cases. That’s true in many African nations trying to manage the crisis without adequate vaccine access, which has sparked criticism of the U.S. for its failure to share either the treatment or the technology. The U.S. decision follows a global summit hosted by Japan and Gavi on Wednesday, with nearly 40 countries promising to deliver 1.8 billion doses through COVAX in the coming year.
“This announcement allows us to quickly get more doses to countries in a strained global supply climate – meaning frontline workers and at-risk populations will receive potentially life-saving vaccinations and bringing us a step closer to ending the acute phase of the pandemic,” said Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley.
Image: UNICEF/Kofi Acquah