US Will Give 500 Million More Pfizer Jabs to poor countries, Joins EU in Launching New COVID Financing Fund
US President Joe Biden addressing his COVID-19 summit.

The US is buying 500 million COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer for low and middle-income countries, which will be shipped “by this time next year”, US President Joe Biden announced at his COVID-19 summit on Wednesday.

“For every one shot we’ve administered to date in America, we have now committed to doing three shots for the rest of the world,” said Biden, adding that the US had already shipped nearly 160 million doses to 100 countries – “more than every other country has donated combined”.

The US committed an additional $370 million to buy and deliver these shots and more than $380 million to assist in the global vaccine alliance, Gavi, to further facilitate vaccine distribution in regions of the greatest with the greatest need, said Biden.

Meanwhile, Pfizer announced on Wednesday that it would provide the 500 million vaccines “at a not-for-profit price for donation to low- and lower-middle-income countries and the organisations that support them” – but did not specify a price.

“This expanded agreement brings the total number of doses to be supplied to the US government for donation to these countries to one billion,” said Pfizer, adding that they would be shipped to  92 low- and lower-middle-income countries as defined by Gavi’s COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) and the 55 member states of the African Union.

“Deliveries of the initial 500 million doses began in August 2021, and the total one billion doses under the expanded agreement are expected to be delivered by the end of September 2022. The current plan is to produce these doses in Pfizer’s US facilities,” the company added.

Earlier in the week, Knowledge Ecology International reported that the $10 billion contract between the US government and Pfizer to purchase the initial 500 million doses “contains a clause indicating that the $20 per dose price may be a floor and not a ceiling going forward”.

Acknowledging that over 4.5 million people had already died of COVID-19, Biden said that the summit is about “supercharging” global efforts in “vaccinating the world by dramatically ramping up vaccine production, donations delivery and administering the vaccine, which is a logistical challenge”. 

New US-EU fund

The US and the European Union also announced a COVID-19 vaccine partnership to donate – not sell – vaccines to LMIC, added Biden.

Ursula von den Leyen, President of the European Commission told the summit that the EU would “work with the US and within the G20 to set up a new global health financial intermediary fund” to help pay for the donations.

US Vice-President Kamala Harris elaborated that her country wanted the fund to be based at the World Bank, and at address pandemic preparedness – not just  the current pandemic

“The United States is prepared to contribute at least $250 million to help get this fund started. We have also requested an additional $850 million from the US Congress,” Harris told the summit.

“We are issuing a call to action to countries and corporations from around the world to join us in this effort. And we have a collective goal of reaching $10 billion at the outset,” said Harris, adding that the world was still not prepared for the next pandemic.

“Our world is not fully prepared to prevent to detect and to respond to future biological threats,” said Harris, reiterating US support for a global health threats council that would monitor progress and identify gaps.

Kamala Harris addresses the COVID-19 Summit.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed the establishment of the fund, and also expressed support for a proposed global health threats council.

However, Ramaphosa asked the summit to go further and adopt UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ proposal for a “global vaccination plan”. 

“Cooperation, collective action and, above all, consensus, is our greatest strength in the current crisis, and will continue to be so into the future,” stressed Ramaphosa.

Guterres has previously expressed fears that the tension between the US and China may undermine global efforts to end the pandemic. South Africa has close relations with both countries.

Ramaphosa also urged the summit to come up with a sustainable plan “on how developing countries can be supported through technology, through finance and through various of support, not only to meet targets around vaccines, diagnostics, personal protective equipment, but also for manufacturing”.

Ramaphosa also stressed that the world “must close the financing and supply gap for COVAX, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, and other mechanisms”. 

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