WASHINGTON – President Biden, under pressure to aggressively address the global shortage of coronavirus vaccine, announced Thursday that his administration will buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and donate them to about 100 countries over the next year, according to people who know the plan.
The White House reached the agreement just in time for Mr. Biden’s eight-day European journey, which is his first opportunity to repeat the United States as world leader and reconnect, was severely beaten by President Donald J. Trump.
“We have to finish Covid-1
People familiar with the Pfizer deal said the United States would pay for the doses at a “not-for-profit” price. The first 200 million doses will be distributed by the end of this year, followed by 300 million next June, they said. Doses are distributed through Covax, the international vaccine sharing initiative.
Sir. Biden is in Europe for a week to attend NATO and the group of seven summits and to meet with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in Geneva. He is likely to use the trip to urge other nations to intensify vaccine distribution.
In a statement Wednesday, White House official Jeffrey D. Zients, who was in charge of formulating a global vaccination strategy, said that Mr. Biden would “unite the world democracies around the solution of this crisis globally, with America leading the way in creating the arsenal of vaccines that will be critical in our global fight against Covid-19. ”
The White House is trying to highlight its success in fighting the pandemic – especially its vaccination campaign – and using this success as a diplomatic tool, especially as China and Russia seek to do the same. Sir. Biden has insisted that unlike China and Russia, which have shared their vaccines with dozens of countries, the United States will not seek to pull promises from countries that receive US-produced vaccines.
The 500 million doses are still well below the 11 billion that the World Health Organization estimates are needed to vaccinate the world, but far exceed what the United States has so far committed to sharing. Other nations have begged the United States to abandon some of its abundant vaccine supplies. Less than 1 percent of the population is fully vaccinated in a number of African countries compared to 42 percent in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Global health spokesmen welcomed the news, but reiterated their position that it is not enough for the United States to simply give the vaccine away. They say the Biden administration must create conditions for other countries to manufacture vaccines on their own, including transferring technology for dosing.
“The world needs urgent new production to produce billions more doses within a year, not just commitments to buy the planned inadequate supply,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of the Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program, in a statement. He added: “We have not yet seen a plan from the US government or the G7 on the necessary ambition or urgent function to make billions more doses and end the pandemic.”
The agreement with Pfizer has the potential to open the door to similar agreements with other vaccine manufacturers, including Moderna, whose vaccine was developed with US tax dollars – unlike Pfizers. In addition, the Biden administration has brokered an agreement where Merck will help produce Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, and these doses may be available for overseas use.
The United States has already agreed to purchase 300 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which requires two shots, for distribution in the United States; the 500 million doses are in addition, according to people familiar with the trade.
Biden in Europe
Neither Pfizer nor government officials will say what the company charges the government for the doses. Pfizer also offers the Biden administration an opportunity to purchase an additional 200 million doses at a price to be donated abroad.
For Pfizer, the decision to sell the Biden administration so much delivery without making a profit is an important step.
Its vaccine accounted for $ 3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year, nearly a quarter of Pfizer’s total revenue. According to some estimates, the company earned approximately $ 900 million in profit before tax on the vaccine in the first quarter.
But the company was also criticized for disproportionately helping wealthy nations, even though Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla had promised in January to help ensure that “developing countries have the same access as the rest of the world. . “
The 200 million Pfizer doses that the Biden administration plans to donate this year amount to approx. 7 percent of the three billion doses the company is expected to produce. Pfizer expects to deliver an additional 800 million doses to countries with lower or lower middle incomes through other agreements with individual countries or Covax, a spokeswoman said.
For Mr. Biden shows the deal that his administration is willing to dive deeper into the country’s treasury to help poorer countries.
Last week, Mr Biden said the United States would distribute 25 million doses this month to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America; South and Southeast Asia; Africa; and the Palestinian Territories, Gaza and the West Bank.
These doses are the first of 80 million that Mr. Biden promised to send abroad before the end of June; three-quarters of them are distributed by Covax. The rest will go towards addressing urgent and urgent crises in places like India and the West Bank and Gaza, administration officials have said. Many of the 80 million doses were made by AstraZeneca and are still bound in a complex review by the Food and Drug Administration.
Mr. Biden has also pledged to support a waiver of an international intellectual property agreement, which would make it harder for companies to refuse to share their technology. But European leaders are blocking the proposed dropout, and pharmaceutical companies are strongly opposed to it. The World Trade Organization’s Council for Trade – Related Aspects of Intellectual Property is meeting this week to consider the waiver.
The president’s promise of vaccines to the global market comes as he prepares to meet on Thursday with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, who has called on leaders to commit to vaccinating everyone in the world by the end of 2022. Sir. The bid’s announcement is likely to be welcome news for Mr. Johnson, whose critics have questioned where the money is coming from to fulfill his promise.
“The truth is, world leaders have been kicking the can down the road for months – to the point where they have run out of money,” said Edwin Ikhouria, CEO of Africa at the ONE Campaign, a nonprofit that aims to eradicate global poverty, said in a statement on Wednesday.
About 64 percent of adults in the United States are at least partially vaccinated, and the president has set a goal of bringing that number up to 70 percent by July 4th. The vaccination rate has fallen sharply since mid-April, leading the Biden administration to pursue a strategy of greater accessibility and incentives to reach Americans who have not yet been shot.
Despite these efforts, there are unused vaccine doses that can be wasted. Once thawed, doses have a limited shelf life and millions could begin to expire within two weeks, according to federal officials.
Providing fair access to vaccines has become one of the most unmanageable challenges in managing the pandemic. Richer nations and private entities have promised tens of thousands of millions of doses and billions of dollars to mitigate global supply, but the gap in vaccine allocations so far has been strong.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, warned this week that the world was facing a “two-track pandemic” in which countries where vaccines are scarce will fight virus cases even if better-delivered nations return to normal.
These lower-income countries will largely depend on the wealthy until vaccines can be distributed and produced on a fairer basis, he said.
Daniel E. Slotnik contributed New York reporting, and Michael D. Shear from Plymouth, England.