Global Health

United States Sends First Batch of Promised 500 million Vaccine Doses to be Donated Internationally

On Tuesday, the Biden administration shipped nearly 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Rwanda as part of the administration’s promise to donate 500 million vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.

Rwanda will receive 488,370 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 188,370 of which come from the 500 million doses bought by the Biden administration earlier this year to be donated globally, and the rest of the doses coming from the United States’ pre-existing supply. President Biden announced his pledge to donate millions of vaccines internationally at the G-7 Summit in June.

“Today, we are shipping over 488,000 doses of Pfizer to Rwanda, including the first 100,000 doses from @POTUS’ 500 million shots pledged and purchased this summer. This is just the beginning,” White House assistance press secretary Kevin Munoz wrote on Twitter.

The administration plans to send 200 million Pfizer doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end of the year. The remaining 300 million doses are set to be shipped by mid-2022.

Rwanda’s Covid-19 cases have decreased to an average of 584 new infections each day, according to Reuters. Research from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine shows that 3.1 percent of the Rwandan population is fully vaccinated so far.

In the United States, 49 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced that it had already shipped over 110 million doses from the U.S. supply of the Covid-19 vaccine to more than 60 countries.

Public health officials applauded the administration’s commitment to donating vaccines globally given increased calls for wealthy nations such as the United States to take more of a lead in promoting vaccine access around the world.

According to the One Campaign, a global poverty and disease relief organization, “Wealthy countries have secured enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to vaccinate their entire populations almost three times over, leaving many poorer countries struggling to vaccinate even their most vulnerable populations.”

“With COVID-19 raging globally and new variants emerging constantly, wealthy countries face a clear choice,” said Tom Hart, acting CEO of the One Campaign, in a statement. “Share more doses and shorten the pandemic or continue to hoard doses and prolong COVID-19 indefinitely.”

Sources: Reuters 8/17/21; CNN 8/17/21; Washington Post 6/9/21; The Hill 8/17/21; Washington Post 8/2/21; White House 8/3/21; One Campaign 8/3/21

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