Global NGOs call on the Biden administration to concoct a plan for sharing vaccine surplus with nations in need

Denmark COVID-19 AstraZeneca
Staff member handles AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in storage at Region Hovedstaden's Vaccine Center, Copenhagen, Denmark February 11, 2021.

In a letter penned on Friday, a group of non-governmental organizations requested that the Biden administration share plans for distributing a surplus of hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to other nations once the US has vaccinated its population.

According to the Associated Press, the letter was signed by more than 30 NGOs, including the ONE Campaign, the International Rescue Committee, and Save The Children. They asked President Joe Biden for a commitment that the US would share excess vaccines through COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX), a World Health Organization-supported entity.

On Monday, Biden said that 90% of Americans will be eligible for vaccination by April 19. And last week, Biden said that his administration planned to deliver 200 million doses within his first 100 days.

All states have met or are ahead of the Biden administration's call for all adults to be eligible for the vaccine by May 1, Biden said on Monday.

The letter, obtained by the AP, called on the Biden administration to engage in "vaccine diplomacy."

"It is estimated that there could be twice as many deaths from COVID-19 if rich countries monopolize the first doses of vaccines instead of making sure they are distributed globally," the groups wrote in the letter. "Vaccine hoarding could cost the global economy up to $9.2 trillion. Wealthy countries will bear half of those costs because of supply chain disruptions and demand shocks."

According to the report, the Biden administration is contributing financially to COVAX, but the US has not explicitly committed vaccine doses to the group. In the letter, the organizations called on the Biden administration to help other countries work through potential contractual and legal issues US manufacturers may bring up in terms of sharing US-produced vaccine doses globally.

The letter called for urgency as the US's vaccination rate speeds up, so that the surplus supply can quickly be distributed to a list of 90 countries globally, according to the report.

"Given the optimistic outlook for vaccinating most Americans in the next few months and the huge number of excess doses the US has in its pipeline, the US is uniquely positioned to accelerate the global response to the pandemic by sharing vaccines," the letter says.

According to the report, the Biden administration has purchased enough Modern, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses to vaccinate another 150 million people by the end of the year. The administration has also ordered 110 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, and 300 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca.

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