Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Biden vaccines

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House where he addressed the importance of people getting a COVID-19 vaccination August 3, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As Biden Touts 110+ Million Vaccine Donations to the World, US Urged to Go Much Further

"The president has said that the U.S. will serve as a vaccine arsenal for the world," said one campaigner. "Ten thousand people die each day waiting for ambitious action to match this vision."

Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration on Tuesday touted the more than 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses it has sent abroad, public health and justice advocates continued to highlight the dramatic disparity between inoculation levels in rich and poor nations and demand the United States government go much further in order to save lives and help bring the global pandemic to an end.

"Every dose helps. Yet 100 million doses amount to only one one-hundredth of the current global need," said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Access to Medicines program.

"The president has said that the U.S. will serve as a vaccine arsenal for the world," he added. "Ten thousand people die each day waiting for ambitious action to match this vision."

The White House statement ahead of President Joe Biden's afternoon address struck a much different tone, saying that "the U.S. has now donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccines to more than 60 countries—a major milestone that cements the United States as the global leader in Covid-19 vaccine donations."

"According to the United Nations, this is more than the donations of all other countries combined and reflects the generosity of the American spirit," the White House said.

"Starting at the end of this month," the White House added, "the administration will begin shipping a half a billion Pfizer doses that the United States has pledged to purchase and donate to 100 low-income countries in need."

The statement came a day after the White House announced that at least 70% of people across the United States have received at least one dose, about a month after Biden's July 4 goal. Meanwhile, just over 1% of people in the world's poor nations are vaccinated, as the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to spread around the world.

Axios reported Monday that "the Biden administration is planning a first-of-its-kind, global leader-level summit focused on ending the Covid-19 pandemic and preparing for future pandemics."

The summit will reportedly be held during the United Nations General Assembly next month and include not only political leaders but also various global organizations.

"It is critically important that a global Covid summit be more than just PR," said Maybarduk. "Biden has an opportunity to help launch an urgent global vaccine manufacturing, delivery, and knowledge sharing program that can end the pandemic. Millions of people have lost their lives waiting for such desperately needed action."

Specifically, Public Citizen called on the U.S. government and other nations to:

  • Invest $25 billion to make eight billion vaccine doses in one year;
  • Share knowledge and vaccine recipes to bring regional production hubs online;
  • Waive intellectual property rules and call on Moderna and Pfizer to share vaccine recipes; and
  • Immediately reallocate excess doses to COVAX.

COVAX, a global vaccination co-led by the World Health Organization, has struggled to get shots into arms. The New York Times reported Monday that "the 163 million doses it has delivered—most free to poorer nations, with the rest to countries like Canada that paid their way—are a far cry from plans to have at least 640 million doses available by now."

To ramp up production and distribution of doses, and combat what critics have called "vaccine apartheid," campaigners across the globe have called on the World Trade Organization (WTO) members to waive intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments.

Though U.S. President Joe Biden caved to public pressure in May and threw his support behind the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver—first proposed by India and South Africa last year—other powerful European countries remain opposed.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna have raised prices for their vaccines, and public health experts and governments are considering the need for a third "booster" shot, heightening concerns that wealthy countries will continue to hoard doses.

The Biden administration's celebration of its vaccine donations on Tuesday came as the Center for Global Development, the Center for Strategic International Studies, the Duke University Global Health Institute, and other groups called for bolder U.S. action in an open letter.

"We are facing the very real possibility that low- and lower-middle income countries will be stuck at low vaccine coverage levels through 2022 and beyond, an outcome that will be deadly," the letter says. "The deep divide between vaccine haves and have-nots is a challenge to our conscience and a major threat to our economic recovery and national security."

"The U.S. and G7 allies have taken important but modest steps to close the global vaccine gap, including by accelerating large-scale production and delivery of high-quality vaccines, increasing financial support to COVAX, and committing to share roughly 900 million doses over the next year (including 580 million from the U.S.)," it adds. "But these actions fall far short of the true scale and urgency required."

Dr. Krishna Udayakumar, director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, echoed that message in comments to ABC News, focusing on the White House's new figure.

"Getting 110 million doses out is really helpful, but in the scale that we need to find a way to get 10 billion plus doses out, it's not even in the order of magnitude to make a difference," he said. "The U.S. has done more than any other country so far, but that's more an indictment of the whole response, as opposed to the U.S. standing out in any positive way."

"We have under-invested on the ground in ensuring vaccines can turn into vaccinations," Udayakumar added. "My biggest concern is we're going to see vaccines sitting in freezers around the world."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Hundreds of Thousands Take to Streets Worldwide for 'Uproot the System' Climate Strikes

"The climate crisis has not disappeared," said Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. "It's the opposite—it's even more urgent now than it was before."

Jake Johnson ·

African Leaders Condemn Vaccine Apartheid as an 'Indictment on Humanity'

"We tend to forget that no one is safe until everyone is safe."

Jake Johnson ·

As Other States Try to Copy Texas, SCOTUS Asked to Find Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

The request from healthcare providers comes after a Florida Republican filed a copycat bill and advocacy groups called on Congress to affirm the right to abortion nationwide.

Jessica Corbett ·

As Bids to Slash Pentagon Budget Fail, US Military Spending Slammed as 'Height of Absurdity'

"Spending $780 billion on weapons and war while our communities starve, while the climate crisis worsens, while a pandemic that has killed millions and affected countless more rages on, is a national shame."

Brett Wilkins ·

'This Is Big': House Passes Amendment to Cut US Complicity in Saudi Bombing of Yemen

The vote, said Rep. Ro Khanna, "sent a clear message to the Saudis: end the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo