Biden to commit $4 billion in immediate funding to global vaccine initiative

President Biden will announce Friday that the United States is sending $4 billion to Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to support Covax, the global initiative to develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines to lower income countries.

The $4 billion amount includes $2 billion in funding that will go out immediately.

Biden will make the announcement during an appearance at a virtual meeting of Group of Seven (G7) leaders on Friday, according to senior administration officials.

In addition to the $2 billion in immediate assistance, Biden will commit to gradually releasing another $2 billion in funding to Gavi as part of an effort by the U.S. to secure more donor commitments to the vaccine program.

The $4 billion in funding for Gavi was previously appropriated by Congress in bipartisan coronavirus relief and government funding legislation passed in December. The goal of Covax is to vaccinate 20 percent of the populations of the world’s lowest-income countries by the end of this year.

Why it matters for the US: Beyond the obvious benefit of vaccinating people in other countries, worldwide vaccinations also matter for the US in help cut down on transmission of the virus, helping to prevent new variants from forming. The more the virus spreads, the more likely new variants are to form.