CORNWALL, UK – With Thursday’s announcement by US President Joe Biden that his government is donating 500 million doses of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to 92 low- and middle-income countries, the United States wants to rid itself of the awkward reputation of being a vaccine is hoarder.
Biden could not have chosen a more appropriate time and place for the announcement – a day before the start of the G-7 summit, a meeting of the world’s most advanced democracies in Cornwall, UK. In doing so, he sets a high standard for affluent countries to do the same.
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According to the White House, the half-billion doses of Pfizer will be delivered by June next year, including 200 million that will be delivered by the end of 2021. The administration said the donation would ‘be the basis for a coordinated effort by the world’s democracies to vaccinate people around the world. ”
The doses, delivered by the US by COVAX, the United Nations’ vaccine sharing mechanism, is a supplement to the 80 million that the US has already delivered by June. In addition, the US gave $ 2 billion to COVAX.
Initially, America promised an additional $ 2 billion for COVAX, but the money is now being diverted to help pay for the 500 million donated doses, which cost an estimated $ 3.5 billion.
Biden’s announcement is a signal that the US ‘is not as intensely parochial and inwardly focused’, said Leslie Vinjamuri, director of the American and American program at Chatham House. It has been a major source of concern worldwide, Vinjamuri said, not only during the Trump years, but also during the early months of the Biden administration when Washington did not share doses, despite a large oversupply.
Humanitarian organizations applauded the move. Tom Hart, acting CEO of The ONE Campaign, an organization that works to end poverty and preventable diseases, called on other G-7 countries to follow suit.
“This action sends an incredibly powerful message about America’s commitment to helping the world fight this pandemic and the tremendous power of America’s global leadership,” Hart said in a statement.
Will other G7 countries follow?
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday also promised ‘millions’ of doses to the poorest in the world.
“At Carbis Bay, the G-7 will promise to distribute vaccines around the world by the end of next year, with millions coming from the UK’s British surplus,” Johnson announced. in a statement.
But it is unclear whether other G-7 members will follow immediately. The countries are vaccinating their own population. Japan and Canada, with a vaccination rate of less than 10%, are incapable of being so generous.
Apart from donating vaccines, the G-7 is also under pressure to waive vaccination patents. The US has supported relinquishing intellectual property rights to vaccines, the so-called TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization. But the European Union is pushing for another proposal, forcing licensing to boost vaccine production.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told VOA that the different approaches would not be a point of contention at the G-7.
“I expect convergence because we all come together around the idea that we need to increase vaccine supply in a number of ways,” Sullivan said.
The Biden government knows that Europe is likely to rely on not supporting the waiver, said Vinjamuri of Chatham House. Getting all the WTO members to agree on a waiver is a long and challenging process. It is simple to donate vaccines rather than allow countries to produce them without being sued.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told VOA that the US would continue WTO negotiations but would not elaborate on whether Biden would place his diplomatic weight on the G-7.
President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson will meet later Thursday. The world will watch as the two leaders interact, taking into account differences of opinion in the past, including on Brexit, the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, which opposed the Obama-Biden government.
“The chemistry was not good yet. President Biden called Boris Johnson a clone of Donald Trump,” said Dan Hamilton, director of the Global Europe program at the Wilson Center.
Biden, who is of Irish descent, is also concerned that Brexit could undermine the Good Friday Agreement, the 1998 agreement, by the United States that brought peace to Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Under the Brexit agreement, Northern Ireland remains a party to the EU’s internal market, but is no longer part of the union, which means a customs border must be implemented. The Biden government wants to ensure that nothing in the Brexit could jeopardize the prospects for peace.
Bulls support for the Good Friday deal is ‘rock solid’, Sullivan, national security adviser, told VOA.
“The agreement must be protected, and any action that impedes or undermines it will not be welcomed by the United States,” Sullivan said. He declined to say whether Johnson was undermining the deal.
Despite this tension, Biden is very committed to anchoring the G-7 in the US-UK partnership, Vinjamuri said. “Use America’s deep and historic relationship with Britain to affirm the values of democracy, liberalism and freedom.”
Johnson’s government has just completed an integrated review of its foreign policy strategy, which includes a confirmation of the special relationship between the two allies.
The leaders agreed to a new Atlantic Charter, based on statements by then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and then-US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 to promote democracy and free trade, was instrumental in shaping the world order after the First World War.
The Atlantic 2021 Charter emphasizes that the two countries, with similar values and joint strength, will work together to meet the enormous challenges – from COVID, climate change to maintaining global security.