President Biden announced Thursday that the U.S. will donate 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to other nations as soon as possible, and share another 55 million doses before the end of June. About 75 percent of the initial batch, or about 19 million doses, will be distributed through COVAX, the global vaccination effort, while the remaining 6 million will be distributed directly to allies and "regional priorities," including Mexico, Canada, Haiti, India, South Korea, Ukraine, Egypt, Gaza and West Bank, and Iraq.
The White House stipulated where the 19 million COVAX vaccines would be distributed: about 6 million doses to Latin America and the Caribbean, 7 million doses to Asia, and 5 million doses to Africa.
"We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions," Biden said in a statement. "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." He added that "as long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable."
Biden announced in late April and mid-May that the U.S. would donate 80 million doses by the end of June, and his administration has faced growing pressure to start shipping out the doses. And that pressure has come from across the ideological spectrum — Jim Geraghty at the conservative National Review and liberal MSNBC host Chris Hayes both pushed the Biden administration to move faster on vaccine donations in the past two days.
"Early in the Biden administration, White House, national security, and health officials agreed that their goal was for the U.S. to become the world leader in vaccine donations," Politico reports. "But they disagreed on when to start shipping out doses, how many to send, and whether to even call them donations," and they didn't start working on a donation framework until April.
The White House initially planned to start its donation effort with 60 million doses of stockpiled AstraZeneca vaccine, which is approved in many other countries but not the U.S. Those doses are still in limbo pending the completion of a Food and Drug Administration safety review Biden's team expected to be finished weeks ago, Politico reports. The first batch of 25 million doses will come from the U.S. stockpile of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.