MAWGAN PORTH, England (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled plans for the U.S. to donate 500 million vaccine doses around the globe over the next year.
“America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our fight against COVID-19,” Biden said alongside Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. “This is a monumental effort on behalf of the American people…We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic alongside of our global partners.”
The announcement of the vaccine donation, the largest ever by a single country, comes ahead of Biden’s meeting with leaders of the other Group of Seven advanced economies – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – in Cornwall, England.
Biden is also expected to call on his fellow G-7 leaders to do their part to contribute to the global vaccine supply.
“The goal of today’s donation is to save lives and end the pandemic and will provide the foundation for additional actions to be announced in the coming days,” the White House said.
The new U.S. commitment is to purchase and donate 500 million Pfizer doses for distribution through the global COVAX alliance to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union, bringing the first steady supply of mRNA vaccine to the countries that need it most.
Biden said Thursday distribution of the vaccine will begin in August. It will be sent to more than 100 “low and lower-middle income” countries.
U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech confirmed they will provide 200 million doses in 2021 and 300 million doses in the first half of 2022.
“This is the mRNA vaccine, which is proven to be extremely effective against covid-19 and every known variant of that virus thus far,” Biden said.
The shots, which will be produced at Pfizer’s U.S. production sites, will be provided at a not-for-profit price.
“Our partnership with the U.S. government will help bring hundreds of millions of doses of our vaccine to the poorest countries around the world as quickly as possible,” said Pfizer Chief Executive Bourla.
The U.S. is now set to be COVAX’s largest vaccine donor in addition to its single largest funder with a $4 billion commitment.
The global alliance has thus far distributed just 81 million doses, and parts of the world, particularly in Africa, remain vaccine deserts.
As demand for vaccines in the United States dropped significantly, global inequities in supply have become more glaring.
Earlier this month, the White House unveiled its plans to begin sharing the existing U.S. vaccine surplus with the world. The administration said 25% of doses will be kept in reserve for emergencies to help with surges around the world and to share directly with allies and partners. The White House has previously stated its intent to share 80 million vaccine doses with the world by the end of June.
To date 63.9% of the adult U.S. population have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 137.5 million are fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
The pace of new vaccinations in the U.S. has dropped below 400,000 people per day — down from a high of nearly 2 million per day two months ago.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.