US President Joe Biden has pledged to donate 500 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine to developing nations from next year.
He made the pledge at a virtual Covid-19 summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, promising an “arsenal of vaccines”.
“To beat the pandemic here, we need to beat it everywhere,” Biden said. He added that with the new commitments, “For every one shot we’ve administered to date in America, we have now committed to doing three shots to the rest of the world.”
The additional vaccines will see the total US commitment on vaccine sharing exceed one billion jabs.
The World Health Organization has set a minimum target of 40% vaccine coverage in every country by the end of 2021. Health experts say some 11 billion doses are required to vaccinate at least 70% of the global population.
But according to data from the University of Oxford, only 2% of people in low-income countries have had their first dose, compared to many high-income countries who have now given at least one shot to more than half their populations.
In June, members of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US – pledged to donate one billion doses to poor countries over the next year.
Biden pledged 580m at the time, of which the US has delivered only 160m so far.
The donated vaccines are routed through Covax, the global scheme supported by the WHO, to get doses where they’re needed most.