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US to send $ 2 billion to global Covid vaccine program targeting developing countries

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WASHINGTON President Joe Biden will announce plans to contribute up to $ 4 billion to a global Covid-19 vaccine program aimed at helping developing countries, an move officials argue will strengthen US national security interests by helping pandemic control globally.

The United States will contribute $ 2 billion in startups in the coming days to a World Health Organization-sponsored program called COVAX, which supports vaccination access for 92 countries. The remaining $ 2 billion will contribute over the next two years, including another $ 500 million when other donor promises are met and initial doses delivered.

While millions of Americans are still waiting to get access to the vaccine, administration officials said contributing funds, which were appropriated specifically by Congress in December for pandemic foreign aid, would help Americans reduce the risk of further mutations that could prolong the pandemic. .

We think it is vital to take a role in defeating the pandemic around the world and really put the American leadership there to do so, said a senior administration official. It is very important that vaccination increases globally, while we will certainly give priority to vaccines here at home.

The move highlights Biden’s different approach to global affairs after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the WHO and signed an executive order giving priority to vaccines for Americans before helping other countries. Still, senior administration officials said the U.S. would consider donating vaccines to lower-income countries once sufficient supplies have been provided to vaccinate all Americans, contrary to what some global health organizations demanded.

The global aid organization UNICEF has said that countries that have vaccinated their own health workers and populations at higher risk of serious illness should share vaccine doses with other countries so that they do the same. Nearly 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, have not yet administered a single dose, the group said on February 10, which UNICEF called a self-destructive strategy that would allow the virus to spread further.

It is also unclear how much funding will help in the short term. Some global health officials have complained that funding is not the problem when it comes to getting the vaccine quickly in developing countries because there is not enough vaccine to buy, a problem to which the US has contributed by grabbing hundreds of millions of doses for Americans.

Biden will make the announcement Friday at a virtual meeting of G-7 leaders where the global pandemic response is expected to be at the center of the meeting.

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