Biden to Invest $4 Billion in Global Vaccine Effort
As part of his ongoing efforts to rebuild relationships with U.S. allies while also addressing the coronavirus, President Joe Biden announced today that the U.S. will contribute $4 billion to COVAX, the World Health Organization’s coronavirus vaccine development program. One of the goals of the program is to distribute vaccines equitably around the world, which President Donald Trump did not support.
The Washington Post reports that Biden will distribute the money in two batches. The first $2 billion will be paid now and the second $2 billion after other countries meet their pledges. The money was appropriated by Congress last year.
COVAX is managed by Gavi, the global vaccine alliance program of the World Health Organization. It operates the ACT-Accelerator program (Access to Coronavirus Tools). The idea is to increase testing, treatments and vaccines worldwide while also sharing research. Although 190 nations participate, the program has been off to a slow start.
A key problem is that wealthier nations have pursued their own deals with vaccine manufacturers to ensure access rather than participate in COVAX’s more equitable approach. COVAX has yet to distribute vaccines, but it recently signed an agreement to purchase 1.1 billion doses from Novavax (NASDAQ: NVAX).
The coronavirus is world-wide, and borders are difficult to keep closed. There are both moral and practical reasons for ensuring that vaccine distribution is equitable, and this announcement is a key step toward that goal.
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