President Joe Biden formally announced the U.S.'s plan to buy an additional 500 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine over the next year, which it will share with the global supply.
The vaccines will be shared through the COVAX alliance for donation to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union over the next year, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
"This is a monumental commitment by the American people," Biden said. "We're not perfect, but we step up."
Biden added Thursday that the donation to the global supply came with "no strings attached."
"We are doing this to save lives. That's it. Period," Biden said.
Biden stressed the U.S.'s commitment to fighting COVID-19 globally, saying that it's part of the country's humanitarian responsibility. He also noted that it's also "in America's interest" to vaccinate the rest of the world because, with continued spread, the virus could develop dangerous mutations.
"It's in all of our interest to have the global economy recover as well, and that's not going to happen if we don't get this pandemic under control," Biden said.
Under the plan, 200 million doses — enough to fully protect 100 million people — would be shared this year, with deliveries beginning in August. The balance will be donated in the first half of 2022.
Biden formally announced the purchased Thursday in England, where he's in the midst of his foreign trip as president, where he'll take part in the Group of Seven summit.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told the Associated Press Wednesday that the Biden administration remains committed to adding to the global vaccine supply.
“As he said in his joint session (address), we were the ‘arsenal of democracy’ in World War II,” Sullivan said. “We’re going to be the ‘arsenal of vaccines’ over this next period to help end the pandemic.”
The Biden administration previously committed to sending 80 million doses of vaccine to the rest of the world by the end of June. The White House says that 75% of those doses will go to COVAX.
COVAX, or COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, is a coalition of organizations, including the WHO, that aims to deliver "equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines."
Pressure has been mounting on the U.S. in recent weeks to share more of its deep vaccine supply with the rest of the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 64% of adults are partially vaccinated, and Bloomberg says the daily distribution of vaccines in the U.S. has been steadily dropping since mid-April.
Bloomberg reports that 2.4 billion doses of vaccine have been administered around the world,, 300 million of which have come in the U.S.