Facebook Twitter

Everything we know (and don’t know) about the U.S. donating 500 million vaccines

Answers to 6 key questions about the largest vaccine donation to date

SHARE Everything we know (and don’t know) about the U.S. donating 500 million vaccines
A health worker prepares a syringe of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A health worker prepares a syringe of the AstraZeneca vaccine during a mass coronavirus vaccination campaign for public transport workers at the Kampung Rambutan Bus Terminal in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Achmad Ibrahim, Associated Press

U.S. President Joe Biden announced a new round of vaccine donations Thursday evening. The U.S. will donate 500 million doses of Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to countries most in need, according to The Associated Press.

  • This is the largest purchase and donation of vaccines by a single country, reported CNN.
  • The donation is a major step to making the U.S. a dominant vaccine provider globally, said Axios.

The donation announcement came just ahead of the G-7 summit, a gathering of leaders from seven major industrial nations. Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be a high priority for G-7 talks, reported the AP.

  • Here’s what we know right now about the most recent — and largest — vaccine donation.

Why is the U.S. donating vaccines?

The U.S. and other wealthy countries face growing calls to share their own vaccine supplies and expand the global vaccine supply. Vaccination gaps between high-income and low-income countries have widened, with some calling it “vaccine apartheid,” reported the AP.

  • Biden’s vaccine-sharing strategy has come under scrutiny lately, reported The Washington Post.

By donating vaccines, Biden hopes to show that Western democracies can do more good for the world than authoritarian states, reported the AP.

  • “Our vaccine donations don’t include pressure for favors or potential concessions,” Biden said in Thursday’s announcement. “We’re doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic. That’s it. Period,” per CNN.

How will the vaccines be distributed?

About 75% of the 500 million doses are expected to be distributed through COVAX, an international vaccine-sharing initiative, and the remaining 25% will be given directly to countries in need, reports CNN.

  • The U.S. donation will go to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union, said the AP. The first supply will go to countries most in need. No countries have been specified yet.

This donation will make the U.S. the largest COVAX donor and the largest COVAX funder, said the AP.

  • So far, COVAX has given about 82 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 129 countries, said The Washington Post.

When will these donations happen?

Shipments of the donated doses will begin in August, according to the AP. About 200 million doses are expected to be donated by the end of this year with the remaining 300 million donated in the first part of 2022, reported NPR.

How many vaccine doses has the U.S. donated so far?

To date, the U.S. has pledged to donate 80 million vaccines. This includes the donation of 25 million doses Biden announced last week, according to The Washington Post.

  • According to Axios, the U.S. government’s deal with Pfizer includes the option of buying an additional 200 million doses.

Is the U.S. keeping any vaccines?

The U.S. will keep a quarter of its excess of vaccines, reported the AP. This vaccine reserve will be used for emergencies or to donate directly to foreign allies.

Will other G-7 countries donate vaccines too?

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Thursday that the G-7 will donate 1 billion vaccine doses, said the AP. So far, half will come from the U.S. and another 100 million doses will come from Britain.

  • G-7 countries include the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, reported CNN.

The remaining G-7 countries are expected to outline their donation plans on Friday, per AP.