US ups commitment to share vaccines, will send 20 mn more doses abroad

Washington, May 17 (EFE).- The United States on Monday announced it will donate 20 million more doses of anti-Covid vaccine, putting it far out front in the world effort to help immunize people around the world, although anti-vaxxers and other skeptics still remain to be convinced to get the jab.

The US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recently said that fully vaccinated US citizens no longer need to wear facemasks in most situations – either inside or outside – a move that has sparked controversy because it leaves in the hands of state and local governments the decision to lift their respective restrictions.

President Joe Biden on Monday, for the first time, revealed that newly confirmed coronavirus cases are falling in all 50 states, although he warned that there are still areas where the daily case counts could rise again if vaccination numbers are not increased and a larger percentage of the population is not immunized.

With 60 percent of the country’s adult population having received at least one dose of one of the available vaccines, Biden announced a new US vaccine donation to countries abroad of 20 million doses, bringing to 80 million the number of doses that Washington will send abroad.

“Just as in World War II America was the arsenal of democracy, in the battle against (the) Covid-19 pandemic, our nation is going to be the arsenal of vaccines for the rest of the world,” Biden said in remarks at the White House.

The total donation will consist of 60 million already-promised doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which the US is not using, along with another 20 million doses of vaccines approved by the US administration: namely, Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen, the latter manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.

The announcement makes the US the largest donor of anti-Covid vaccines in the world, Biden said, adding that the country is not looking for favors in exchange for making the vaccines available and will work together with the Covax international initiative headed by the World Health Organization to distribute them.

“This will be … five times more than any other country” has shared to date, Biden said in his speech, adding “More than Russia, China – which have donated 15 million doses.”

“Now, there’s a lot of talk about Russia and China influencing the world with vaccines. We want to lead the world with our values. With this demonstration of our innovation and ingenuity and the fundamental decency of the American people,” the president said.

In addition, the president promised that in the coming weeks he will coordinate a multilateral effort on vaccines and hopes to be able to report the progress at the next meeting of the G7, which will be held in the United Kingdom.

Biden reiterated that sending the vaccine abroad will not affect the reserves the US is maintaining so that all citizens who want to may be inoculated.

In his remarks on the donation, Biden hailed the new milestone of administering at least one dose to 60 percent of the US adult population, saying that the progress was undeniable but the effort would continue and issuing a new call to the public to get immunized.

The president also warned that in states where the vaccination campaign is proceeding more slowly people are running the risk that the favorable caseload figures will once again begin to worsen, adding that it would be an “unnecessary tragedy” to see those who are resisting getting immunized get infected with Covid-19.

Although the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks under all conditions, controversy and confusion are still rife regarding this decision.

Among other things, the recommendation was not accompanied by a directive and many doubts exist among local and state administrations, workers’ organizations and companies about how to proceed.

Since the announcement was made last week, CDC director Rochelle Walensky has said that vaccinated people are safe without a mask, emphasizing that the decision was made on the basis of scientific evidence that shows that immunization is effective against the original strain of Covid-19 and the variants that have developed over the past year or more.

But she also said that directives should be made locally because the CDC announcement doesn’t mean that everyone can take off their mask in every situation, as she said this past weekend on NBC.

On Monday, Biden did not want to get involved in the controversy, although he emphasized that there are two ways people can protect themselves, either get vaccinated or wear a mask, and he added that he understood that there are people who – once immunized – will want to continue wearing a mask as an extra precaution, since the vaccines, although they are quite effective, do not provide 100 percent protection against being infected against Covid.

He also urged everyone to remain friendly and respectful with others regardless of their mask preferences.

In any case, he asked everyone to make the appropriate effort to get the country to the point where 70 percent of all adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4.

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