Biden Announces Further US Investment in Combatting COVID-19 Globally

By Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.
September 22, 2021 Updated: September 22, 2021

President Joe Biden announced on Sept. 22 that the U.S. government is increasing its investment in combating the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus globally by doubling the number of COVID-19 vaccines it plans to purchase and ship around the world.

U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill for another 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to ship to 100 countries—92 low- and lower-middle-income countries and the 55 member states of the African Union. That’s on top of the 500 million vaccines the United States has already committed to purchasing. The doses will be purchased at a not-for-profit price and shipped through the global COVID-19 platform known as COVAX, according to a senior Biden administration official.

Thus far, the United States has shipped about 160 million doses globally of the total 1.1 billion it has now pledged to ship by this time next year free of charge, with no strings attached, according to Biden.

“We’re not going to solve this crisis with half-measures or middle-of-the-road ambitions. We need to go big,” he said. “And we need to do our part—governments, the private sector, civil society, leaders, philanthropists.”

Biden also announced that $370 million in tax money would go toward the logistical challenge of administering the vaccine globally, another $380 million would go toward the public-private group funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation known as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and another $1.4 billion would go toward “bulk oxygen support, expanded testing, and strengthening health care systems and more.”

“Because we’ve now distributed, donated vaccines to a range of countries around the world, we’ve been able to work through some of those regulatory, legal, logistical hurdles that have been challenges in some places,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Sept. 22, stating that vaccine distribution “should be easier moving forward.”

The White House stated that the goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of the world’s population for COVID-19 by this time in 2022. About 43.7 percent of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 6 billion doses administered, according to Our World in Data. Only 2 percent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose of vaccine.

Vice President Kamala Harris also made calls for a new Financial Intermediary Fund at the World Bank meant for preparedness for future pandemics. She pledged $250 million from the United States for that fund and said an additional $850 million has been requested of Congress.

Biden also noted plans to produce 1 billion vaccine doses in India through the Quad partnership and the United States financing the production of more than 500 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines in South Africa meant to be distributed on the African continent. Biden included the announcement of a partnership on vaccines between the United States and the EU as well. The EU announced that it, too, will donate 500 million vaccines globally.

The announcement was made during a virtual summit on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly that included leaders from around the world, as well as members of the private sector.

“We need other high-income countries to deliver on their own ambitious vaccine donations and pledges,” Biden said.

The list of virtual attendees included: U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, World Trade Organization Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley.

In the run-up to the event, the White House sent a list of investment targets to participants of the summit, according to a senior Biden administration official.

Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.