Politics

U.S. will send 20 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses abroad

Washington — President Biden on Monday announced the U.S. will send an additional 20 million doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines to other countries for a total of 80 million doses to other countries by the end of June. The president made that announcement as he shared that COVID-19 cases are dropping in all 50 states.

The 20 million doses sent abroad will include leftover doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, in addition to the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Biden administration had already announced they would send 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot, but that won’t be distributed until it’s given the green light by the Food and Drug Administration. 

“We know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic that’s raging globally is under control,” the president said Monday. “No ocean’s wide enough, no wall is hide enough to keep us safe.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. has donated the most cases over any other country in the world “by five times.” 

President Biden Delivers Remarks On Administration's COVID-19 Response
U.S. President Joe Biden gives an update on his administration’s COVID-19 response and vaccination program in the East Room of the White House on May 17, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images


Mr. Biden said the U.S. won’t be asking for anything in return from those nations. He also didn’t say which countries will be receiving the additional doses, although the U.S. has already pledged some to neighboring Mexico and Canada. The United States’ southern and northern borders are still effectively closed.

Mr. Biden’s announcement comes as the U.S. turned a corner in the pandemic last week with relaxed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allowing those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to forgo their face coverings and social distancing for most indoor and outdoor activities. The White House lifted its own mask requirement for fully vaccinated staff following the health agency’s announcement, and at least 18 states and some major retailers have announced plans to lose their mask mandates.

“Today for the first time since the pandemic began, cases are down in all 50 states,” Mr. Biden said Monday.

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Mr. Biden’s chief medical adviser, told “Face the Nation” that the updated mask guidance from the CDC was “based on the evolution of the science” and said he hopes the relaxed rules will incentivize unvaccinated Americans to get their shots.

Fauci cited three factors as driving the change from health officials: an accumulation of data showing the “real-world effectiveness” of the vaccines; new studies showing the vaccines protect against new coronavirus variants; and information showing it’s unlikely a vaccinated person who becomes infected with the coronavirus transmits it to someone else.

“The accumulation of all of those scientific facts, information and evidence brought the CDC to make that decision to say now when you’re vaccinated, you don’t need to wear a mask, not only outdoors, but you don’t need to wear it indoors,” he said.

Fauci said he expects the CDC will release more specific guidance for fully vaccinated people in particular settings, like the workplace.

While supply of the coronavirus vaccines has been outpacing demand, federal officials expect vaccination rates to rise with the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine for emergency use in 12- to 15-year-olds.

The nation last week surpassed 250 million vaccine doses administered in Mr. Biden’s 114 days in office and is moving toward meeting the president’s goal of administering at least one vaccine dose to 70% of the adult population by July 4.

As of Monday morning, 60% of U.S. adults have received at least one shot, according to the CDC, and 47% of adults are fully vaccinated.

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