By ZEKE MILLER, AAMER MADHANI and JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press
ST. IVES, England (AP) – The Group of Seven countries are pledging to share at least 1 billion coronavirus vaccines with the world, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday, with half from the United States and 100 million from the UK as President Joe Biden urged allies to join in accelerating the end of the pandemic and strengthening the strategic position of the world’s richest democracies.
Johnson’s announcement on the eve of the G-7 leaders’ summit in England came hours after Biden pledged to donate 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and planned a coordinated effort to save money advances in making vaccination widely and rapidly available everywhere.
“We will help pull the world out of this pandemic by working alongside our global partners,” Biden said, adding that on Friday, the G-7 countries would join the United States in outlining their pledges for donations of vaccines. The G-7 also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
The Prime Minister’s Office said the first 5 million UK doses will be shared in the coming weeks, with the rest coming over the next year. Biden’s own pledge was in addition to the 80 million doses he had already pledged to give by the end of June.
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“At the G7 summit, I hope my fellow leaders will make similar commitments so that together we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year and build back better from the coronavirus,” Johnson said in a statement referring to the campaign slogan of the US president.
Earlier Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron praised the United States’ commitment and said Europe should do the same. He said France would share at least 30 million doses globally by the end of the year.
“I think the European Union must have at least the same level of ambition as the United States,” he said at a press conference. He added that time was running out, saying, “It’s almost more important to say how many (doses) we deliver next month than it is to make promises to keep in 18 months. “
G-7 leaders have faced increasing pressure to present their global vaccine sharing plans, especially as supply inequalities around the world have become more pronounced. In the United States, there is a large stock of vaccines and the demand for vaccines has dropped sharply in recent weeks.
Biden predicted that US doses and the global G-7 commitment would “overburden” the global immunization campaign, adding that US doses are provided unconditionally.
“Our vaccine donations do not include pressure for favors or potential concessions,” Biden said. “We’re doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic, that’s all.”
He added, “Our values call on us to do all we can to immunize the world against COVID-19.”
The United States’ commitment is to purchase and donate 500 million doses of Pfizer for distribution through the COVAX global alliance to 92 low-income countries and the African Union, bringing the first regular supply of vaccine to MRNA to countries that need it most.
The Pfizer deal has come to fruition with some urgency over the past four weeks under Biden’s leadership, a senior White House official said, both to meet critical needs abroad and to be prepared. to be announced at the G-7. The official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal plans, added that the Biden administration must apply the same wartime posture applied to the deployment of vaccines in the United States in its efforts to share vaccines around the world. .
Biden said the 500 million vaccines made in the United States will be shipped from August, with the goal of distributing 200 million by the end of the year. The remaining 300 million doses would be shipped in the first half of 2022. The price of the doses has not been released, but the United States is now expected to be COVAX’s largest vaccine donor, in addition to its biggest donor. of funds with a commitment of $ 4 billion.
The well-funded global alliance got off to a slow start to its vaccination campaign as wealthier countries blocked billions of doses through contracts directly with drug makers. Biden’s move, officials said, was intended to ensure that a substantial amount of manufacturing capacity remains open to wealthy countries. Last month, the European Commission signed an agreement to purchase up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer over the next two years, a significant chunk of the company’s upcoming production – though the bloc was reserved the right to donate some of its doses to COVAX.
COVAX has only distributed 81 million doses worldwide and some parts of the world, particularly in Africa, remain vaccine deserts.
White House officials have said the fast-track distribution program fits a theme Biden plans to hit frequently during his week in Europe: that Western democracies, not authoritarian states, can offer the most good to the world. world.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday that G-7 leaders “converge” on the idea that vaccine supplies can be increased in a number of ways, including by countries sharing more their own doses, helping to increase global manufacturing capacity and do more. along the “chain of custody” from when the vaccine is produced to when it is injected into someone in the developing world.
Biden, in his remarks, recalled workers in the Detroit area who 80 years ago built tanks and planes “which helped defeat the threat of global fascism during World War II.”
“They built what has become the arsenal of democracy,” Biden said. “Now a new generation of American men and women, working with today’s latest technology, will build a new arsenal to defeat the current enemy of world peace, health and stability. : COVID-19. “
He noted that Pfizer’s main COVID-19 vaccine plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., Is not far from Detroit.
Last week, the White House unveiled plans to donate an initial allocation of 25 million doses of excess vaccine overseas, primarily through the World Health Organization-backed COVAX program, promising infusions for South and Central America, Asia, Africa and others.
Officials say a quarter of that surplus will be held in reserve for emergencies and that the United States will share directly with its allies and partners, including South Korea, Taiwan and Ukraine. Johnson said the UK would follow a similar pattern with its doses, holding 20% in reserve for bilateral deals but sending the vast majority to COVAX.
China and Russia have shared their locally produced vaccines with some needy countries, often with hidden conditions. Sullivan said Biden “wants to show – by rallying the rest of the world’s democracies – that democracies are the countries that can best offer solutions to people around the world.”
The mRNA vaccines produced in the United States have also been shown to be more effective against the original strain and more dangerous variants of COVID-19 than the more conventional vaccines produced by China and Russia. Some countries that have successfully rolled out these conventional vaccines have nevertheless seen the number of cases increase.
Miller reported from Washington. Lawless reported from Falmouth, England. AP writer Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Jonathan Lemire in Plymouth, England contributed to this report.
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