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  • Writer's pictureEdward Lehman

U.S. Leads the World in Vaccine Shots Donated

President Joe Biden announced in September that the United States is doubling its purchase of Pfizer’s COVID-19 shots to share with the world, bringing the total to one billion doses, as he embraces the goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the global population within the next year.

Following President Biden’s announcement, the U.S. acquired the additional 500 million Pfizer vaccines — surpassing the one billion dose mark — and began delivering them to low- and middle-income countries at the end of October.

Prior to the most recent purchase, about 160 million shots supplied by the U.S. were already distributed to more than 100 countries, representing more donations than the rest of the world combined.

These first 160 million deliveries reflect Biden's effort to establish the U.S. as "the world's arsenal of vaccines” — essentially a warmup for the hundreds of millions of shots that the U.S. has pledged to deliver over the next year.

And the latest purchase is only a fraction of what will be necessary to meet the president’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the global population — and 70 percent of the citizens of each nation — by September 2022’s U.N. meeting.

The World Health Organization says only 15 percent of promised donations of vaccines — from rich countries that have access to large quantities of them — have been delivered.

COVAX, the U.N.-backed program to ship vaccines to all countries has struggled with production issues, supply shortages and a near-cornering of the market for vaccines by wealthy nations.

COVAX has missed nearly all its vaccine-sharing targets.

Earlier this year, President Biden broke with European allies to embrace waivers to intellectual property rights for the vaccines, but at present there has been no movement toward the necessary global consensus on the issue required under World Trade Organization rules.

While some nongovernmental organizations have called these intellectual property waivers vital to boosting global production of the shots, U.S. officials concede it is not the most constricting factor in the inequitable vaccine distribution — and some privately doubt the waivers for the highly complex shots would lead to enhanced production.

AmChamUS continues to encourage the U.S. federal government to utilize medical vaccinations to enhance diplomatic missions globally, reinforcing goodwill between nation states, and bringing enhanced cooperation between recipient countries and the U.S. AmChamUS believes this leads to greater economic opportunities for the U.S., as well as steady tourism gains for the U.S. because of healthy global populations being able to travel to the Americas.

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