Biden promises to share vaccines with world if US has excess

Washington, Mar 10 (efe-epa).- President Joe Biden on Wednesday confirmed that his administration “will share” the Covid-19 vaccines it has acquired with the rest of the world if it has a surplus, something that seems probable judging from the contracts Washington has negotiated with pharmaceutical firms.

“If we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world,” Biden told reporters during a White House event to celebrate the accord by which Merck will help manufacture the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The president clarified the point, which the White House had suggested without confirming it, after announcing that his administration will share another 100 million doses of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson med against Covid-19.

Biden contracted for the new doses, which are expected to be available in the second half of this year, despite the fact that his government had already said in February that it would have enough vaccine to immunize all the adults in the US and hoped to do so before the end of May.

The acquisition of doses by the US and other rich countries has sparked concern among some experts, who warn that this could have repercussions linked to the inability of other countries with fewer financial resources to acquire enough vaccine in the near term, a situation that could increase the risk of mutations of the virus that might be even harder to control.

Biden insisted on Wednesday that his administration will donate $4 billion to the COVAX platform for the development and equitable distribution of vaccines through 2022 and that it will share with other countries any surplus doses it may have once everyone in the US who wants to be immunized has received the vaccine.

“This is not something that can be stopped by a fence no matter how high you build a fence or a wall. So we’re not going to be ultimately safe until the world is safe,” said Biden.

“So, we’re going to start off making sure Americans are taken care of first, but we’re then going to try to help the rest of the world,” he added.

The new agreement between the White House and Johnson & Johnson is aimed at guaranteeing a more than adequate supply of vaccine in case Pfizer or Moderna, the other two big pharma companies whose vaccines have been approved for use in the US, run into manufacturing problems.

Much can change over time and so his administration wants to be prepared for any contingency that may arise, Biden emphasized.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during her daily press conference on Wednesday that it is also possible that any surplus vaccine could be used to inoculate children in the US once it is proven that the drugs are effective in minors.

“We want to be oversupplied and overprepared,” she said.

The Biden administration also wants to reserve vaccine in case it may be necessary to strengthen the immunity of people who have already been vaccinated, if – for instance – it is found that the immune response created by the Pfizer, Moderna or J&J drugs diminishes over time, Psaki said.

The US is the country that has been hardest hit by the pandemic in absolute terms, with more than 29 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 528,000 deaths, although its vaccination plan is now moving ahead at a very good clip with more than two million doses being administered each day nationwide.

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