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The U.S. plans to donate an additional 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries around the world, according to Reuters.
President Joe Biden announced the new pledge during a virtual COVID-19 summit on Wednesday. The plan will increase the U.S. contribution to more than 1 billion doses.
The U.S. has already purchased 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses and donated them through COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing platform, Reuters reported.
Deliveries of the initial 500 million doses began in August, according to CNBC. The first doses arrived in Rwanda in mid-August, and since then, more than 30 million doses have been shipped to 22 countries. The remainder of the 1 billion total will be delivered through next year.
During meetings of the United Nations General Assembly this week, the U.S. is calling on global leaders to endorse its targets to end the pandemic, such as ensuring that 70% of the global population is vaccinated by next September. Reuters obtained a draft of a U.S. document about the goal.
On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping told the assembly that China plans to provide 2 billion vaccine doses to the world by the end of the year, Reuters reported.
Other world leaders also called on rich countries to share vaccine doses with developing countries rather than provide booster shots to people who are already vaccinated.
“Rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines, while poor nations wait for a trickle,” Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, said during a speech to the General Assembly.
“They now talk of booster shots, while developing countries consider half-doses just to get by,” he said, adding that the pandemic won’t end until people are protected worldwide.
U.S. regulators could authorize a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine for older adults and high-risk individuals this week, Reuters reported.
Reuters: “U.S. to donate an additional 500 mln COVID-19 vaccines.”
CNBC: “U.S. to donate millions more Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses to poorer nations.”
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