THE United States Government (USG) has announced that it will be sharing 20 million more vaccine dosses from its own stocks, in addition to the 60 million AstraZeneca doses that were announced previously by President Joe Biden.
By Michael Gwarisa
This brings the total number of vaccines added by the government to the vaccine mix to 80 million, making them the largest sharer of vaccines in the world.
Speaking during a Telephonic Press Briefing, USG State Department Coordinator for the Global COVID Response and Health Security, Gayle Smith said they were working with producers on increasing supply so as to match the growing demand for vaccines globally.
Now, that’s only one part of our strategy on vaccines. I think as we all know, supply is a very big issue and we need many more vaccines for countries all over the world,” said Smith.
“To that end, we’re working with producers on increasing the supply, and also on the supply chains. The component parts that make up a vaccine are in shortage in some cases, so we’re working to increase that production so that, again, supply can increase.”
He added that they were also working to increase supply through the USG Development Finance Corporation, or DFC, to make investments in manufacturing sites around the world that, with an injection of capital, can increase supply over the short and medium term.
“The vaccine strategy is part of a broader strategy for the United States. As you know, it’s critical to ensure that there is both vaccine uptake, but also that diagnostics – importantly, testing – therapeutics, and other supplies are available.
“We are pushing out over a billion dollars, increasing our support for that effort, and at the same time providing humanitarian assistance not only for countries where we’re seeing a surge, but more broadly, to people all over the world who have felt the impacts of this pandemic on their economic livelihoods, their well-being, and their health.”
He however acknowledged the systemic impacts of the pandemic particularly on low- and low-middle-income countries and said they were working on an arrangement for to ensure poorer countries get vaccines as well.
“To that end, as you know, our Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen called for a new issuance of special drawing rights. This garnered the support of the international community. That whole process in now under discussion, and so that’s something that will be available later this year and we hope will help mitigate some of the economic impacts of the pandemic.
“We intend, in leading this effort, to work closely with allies. As the President said the day before yesterday, we can do a great deal, we can be in the front, we can do the most, but we cannot do it alone. And if we’re going to get to scale, working with partners is absolutely critical,” he said.