The Biden administration is negotiating the purchase of an additional 500 million doses of Pfizer to donate abroad.
The Biden administration is negotiating with Pfizer to buy an additional 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to donate abroad, bringing the total number of planned donations to 1.15 billion doses — about a tenth of the world’s need — according to two people known are with the plan. It was not immediately clear about what period the donation would be.
The deal isn’t final yet, but talks come just in time for a global Covid-19 summit that Mr Biden will host next week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The president will use the summit to convince other countries to set aside domestic demands and instead focus on getting vaccine doses to poor countries that rely on donated injections.
Separately, White House officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview a formal announcement from the summit later Friday, said Mr Biden’s message to other countries would be that the United States is not alone can and should not do, and that all countries must honor existing obligations.
The discussions with Pfizer, discussed earlier in The Washington Post, is also because Mr. Biden has come under fire for proposing booster shots to already-vaccinated Americans when citizens of poor countries haven’t even had their first doses. A scientific advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration on Friday overwhelmingly advised against approving a booster injection of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older.
Jeff Ziens, Mr Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, declined to provide details about the talks, saying only that how to help the 100 most deprived countries would be “a big topic of discussion” at the UN meeting.
The World Health Organization has asked world leaders not to roll out any more boosters until at least the end of the year, with the aim of immunizing 40 percent of the world’s population first. The experts, and others, have said a much more aggressive — and comprehensive — approach is needed to fight the global pandemic.
“A fragmented approach favors those who can pay most easily,” Dr. Kate O’Brien, WHO’s top vaccine expert, told reporters earlier this week. Without mentioning the United States, she noted that some countries are “making progress with booster programs for which we see no evidence that would support the need for broad-based booster programs in the general population. And at the same time, others have not even started sufficiently vaccinating health professionals.” or risk groups.”
The summit, which Biden plans to convene on Wednesday, will be the largest gathering of heads of state committed to tackling the coronavirus crisis. Earlier meetings had been attended by much smaller groups of leaders, such as those from the Group of 7 countries.
White House officials said Mr. Biden wanted to bring a new sense of urgency in the fight against the pandemic, as well as create “a bigger tent” of people and groups working to end the pandemic. Pharmaceutical makers, philanthropists and non-governmental organizations are invited to participate.
The officials said Mr Biden wants to reach consensus on a broad framework for action, including specific targets for vaccination. The officials offered few details and said the exact targets were still up for debate.
However, the White House sent a draft paper to summit invitees earlier this week calling for 70 percent of the world’s population to be vaccinated by the time the UN meets again next September.
Experts estimate that 11 billion doses are needed to achieve broad global immunity to the coronavirus. The United States has already committed to sending more than 600 million doses abroad and is working to scale up production in this country and beyond, particularly in India.
But global health advocates say donating doses isn’t enough. They want Mr. Biden to work to create manufacturing hubs in many other countries and pressure vaccine makers to share their technology as part of a far-reaching plan similar to the earlier plan. President George W. Bush Made to Tackle the Global AIDS Epidemic.
Understanding Vaccine and Mask Mandates in the US
- Vaccine Rules. On August 23, the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older, paving the way for an increase in mandates in both the public and private sectors. Private companies are increasingly mandating vaccines for employees. Such mandates are: legally permitted and have been confirmed in legal proceedings.
- Mask Rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in July that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public places in areas with outbreaks, a reversal of the guidance it offered in May. Find out where CDC guidelines apply and where states have their own masking policies. The battle over masks has become controversial in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are demanding that students be vaccinated against Covid-19. Nearly all of them are in states that voted for President Biden.
- schools. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine mandates for educators. A survey published in August found that many U.S. parents of school-aged children are opposed to mandatory vaccines for students, but were more in favor of mask mandates for students, teachers and staff who have not received their injections.
- Hospitals and Medical Centers. Many hospitals and major health systems require workers to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, citing the increasing caseload fueled by the Delta variant and persistently low vaccination coverage in their communities, even within their workforce.
- New York City. Evidence of vaccination is required from employees and customers for indoor meals, gyms, performances and other indoor situations, although enforcement will not begin until September 13. Teachers and other education workers in the city’s vast school system must have at least one vaccine dose by Sept. 27, without the option of weekly testing. City hospital employees should also receive a vaccine or be tested weekly. Similar rules apply to employees in New York State.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon announced it would seek to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for the country’s 1.3 million active troops “by mid-September”. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees would be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
The White House officials who discussed Mr Biden’s summit plan insisted the United States can do both. In an interview earlier this week, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Mr. Biden’s top adviser on the coronavirus — and a driving force behind Mr. Bush’s emergency plan to fight AIDS — said the administration was determined to do more.
“We’re trying to figure out the best way to kick-start a really fully impactful program,” said Dr. Fauci, pointing out that building factories abroad could be a reasonable step to prepare for future pandemics, but couldn’t happen soon enough to end them. “We want to do more, but we’re trying to figure out what the right and best approach is.”
Achieving specific global vaccination targets has proven difficult to date. Covax, the UN-backed vaccine distribution program, announced this month that it would be unable to meet its forecast for available doses in 2021. So far, only 20 percent of people in poor and middle-income countries have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.
At the same time, much of the global vaccine supply comes from China, whose vaccines are generally considered less effective than those used in the United States.
Part of the global vaccine shortage stems from the domestic needs of potential donor countries. Some countries in Asia have imposed tariffs and other trade restrictions on Covid vaccines that delay their delivery abroad. India has banned the export of Covid vaccines, preventing the distribution of doses from the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer.
During a briefing with reporters earlier this week, Loyce Pace, head of the office of global affairs at the Federal Ministry of Health and Human Services, took particular note of the government’s work with India to lift the export ban.
“In particular, we continue to work with the Government of India on their path to assist in the production of vaccines for the world,” said Ms Pace.