United States President Joe Biden

Biden pledges $4bn to Covax initiative on COVID-19 vaccines for poorer countries

*The United States will commit $2 billion immediately to the Covax programme and pledge another $2 billion with conditions designed to spur contributions from other countries

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The United States will contribute as much as $4 billion to Covax COVID-19 Vaccine progamme in the global effort at funding vaccinations in lower-income countries.

However, the country doesn’t plan on shipping any of its own vaccines abroad until its own demand has been met, sources familiar with the matter told reporters.

President Joe Biden was expected to announce during a Group of 7 call Friday that the US would commit $2 billion immediately to the programme and pledge another $2 billion with conditions designed to spur contributions from other countries, reports Bloomberg.

Hitherto, erstwhile US President Donald Trump’s administration had declined to support the World Health Organisation-backed Covax system, as he complained the WHO was bowing to Chinese influence and demanded changes.

The funding, which was allocated by Congress in December, is aimed at spurring a wave of donations to help the programme procure and deliver vaccines to low and lower-middle income countries abroad, according to the officials.

The pandemic will only end when it’s eradicated across the world, they added.

The U.S. has already ordered enough vaccines for at least 300 million adults, and at least 400 million if Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine wins approval for use in the coming weeks.

The official were quoted to have said that Biden’s administration was considering how to donate surplus doses abroad, but would not do so until people in the US have been widely vaccinated.

After the first $2 billion payment, an additional $500 million will be delivered when existing donor pledges are fulfilled and when recipient nations receive first doses, the officials said.

The remaining $1.5 billion will depend on other countries making new pledges of their own, but the officials didn’t specify criteria, according to report.

ConsumerConnect reports that Covax allows countries, including wealthy ones, to tap into vaccine supplies.

Nigeria has also subscribed to the Covax arrangement for vaccines as it is expecting some millions of vaccines doses for immunisation of its population.

In a related development, the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, combined with the fact that 27 million Americans have already been infected, appears to be slowing the virus’ spread to a crawl in 43 states in the US.

A CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data revealed that the United States has experienced a decline in the seven-day average of new cases in 43 states.

The analysis indicated that Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming are the only states reporting an increase in the seven-day average of new cases, while hospitalisations have dropped in 49 states.

Dr. Marty Makary, a Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, wrote in The Wall Street Journal, that COVID-19 cases are down 77 percent in the last six weeks.

Makary predicts that the US will achieve herd immunity, and return to normal life by April 2021.

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