Biden pledges $4 billion for COVAX vaccinations program

Biden pledges $4 billion for COVAX vaccinations program

President Biden will announce a cash infusion plan to help prop up the global coronavirus response.

The regular 2020 annual leaders' summit, which was to have been hosted by former USA president Donald Trump, was ultimately scrapped as America battled with a surging death count due to COVID-19.

Trump pulled the USA out of the World Health Organization, but Biden moved quickly after his inauguration last month to rejoin and confirmed that the US would contribute to COVAX.

The funding was approved by Congress earlier this month.

COVAX aims to ensure a fair supply of coronavirus vaccines around the world.

It remains to be seen how G-7 allies will take Biden's calls for greater worldwide cooperation on vaccine distribution given that the USA refused to take part in the initiative under Trump and that there are growing calls for the Biden administration to distribute some US -manufactured vaccine supplies overseas.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday plans to announce that the United Kingdom will donate surplus coronavirus vaccines to developing countries, joining a similar commitment by President Emmanuel Macron to boost the global battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. While the efficacy is lower than Pfizer and BioNTech's 95%, officials said it still provides a degree of protection much higher than the threshold needed to have an impact. Covax is a global project to procure and distribute coronavirus vaccines for at least the most vulnerable 20 percent in every country, allowing poorer nations to catch up with the rush by dozens of wealthy countries to vaccinate.

"Certainly we've seen attempts by other countries - China and Russian Federation - to use vaccines as a means of making progress diplomatically", White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

"When we have a sufficient supply, it is our intention to consider donating surplus vaccines", one senior official said. World Health Organization says COVAX needs $5 billion in 2021.

The J&J vaccine is administered in a single dose and can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures, a big selling point in countries with relatively weaker healthcare infrastructure.

The Group of Seven industrialized nations are the United States, Germany, Japan, Britain, France, Canada and Italy.

The meeting will be the first G7 leaders' meeting since last April, when they convened for an emergency virtual gathering as the pandemic was sweeping the globe. It has secured deals with vaccine makers to purchase more than 2 billion doses using money donated by wealthier countries, though not all of those vaccines have been authorized for use yet.

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