The U.S. government will begin shipping half a billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to 100 countries in need at the end of this month. The shipments add to the 110 million doses the U.S. government has already donated to more than 60 countries. That means the U.S. has donated more vaccines than all other countries combined, President Joe Biden said in a White House address. Most of the supplies have been distributed through the global vaccination platform Covax, and some in cooperation with the African Union.
What the government attaches importance to: No quid pro quo was asked for the supplies. "We even give vaccines to countries we have problems with." The goal, he said, is to increase global vaccination coverage, prepare countries for outbreaks, and protect medical personnel and vulnerable segments of the population. "The United States will not use vaccines to secure favors from other countries," a White House statement said.
The distribution of vaccine doses is based on the number of cases, death rates and hospitalizations from coronavirus patients. Vaccination rates and the ability of each country to store and administer the vaccines also play a role in the distribution formula.
The largest recipient countries are Indonesia, with eight million doses; Colombia, the Philippines, Nigeria, South Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Mexico, with four million doses or more. Canada is the only rich country receiving supplies from the United States. According to the White House, Canada has received 2.5 million cans.
In his speech, Biden strongly advocated that every American get vaccinated. 90 million Americans who are eligible for vaccination have not yet been vaccinated, he said. Yet the data is clear: almost all deaths have occurred among the unvaccinated, while the vaccinated almost never have to go to the hospital and are less likely to get sick. States with high vaccination rates, such as Vermont and Maine, had few new cases, while southern states with low vaccination rates had the highest numbers of cases. Biden pointed out that Florida and Texas alone accounted for one-third of new cases of infection. "People are dying who shouldn't be dying." In recent days, however, he said, some southern states have caught up.
Biden had words of praise for the fact that three states paid out a hundred dollars for each vaccination, increasing the number of daily vaccinations by 25 percent. He announced, meanwhile, that he would extend the mask requirement for the unvaccinated from federal employees to employees of suppliers and service providers who worked for the government. Biden thanked Google, Walmart, Disney and meat company Tyson for requiring vaccinations of their employees. He expressed criticism of laws in seven Republican-controlled states that prohibit companies and local governments from making protective masks or vaccinations mandatory. In Texas, Biden said professors and teachers can be fined if they required their students or pupils to wear protective masks.
It's not about politics, it's about life for death, Biden cautioned. He emphasized that vaccine is available for every American. It is now in America's interest to help other countries get a handle on the virus, he said.
Image by Alexandra Koch