White House unveils plan to donate 25 million vaccine doses abroad

The Biden administration on Thursday announced it will donate 25 million coronavirus doses abroad, with about three quarters of them allocated to the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, and the rest donated directly to handpicked countries.

The White House said it will donate about 19 million doses to COVAX, which purchases and distributes vaccines to low-and middle-income countries.

About 6 million doses will go to Latin America and the Caribbean, 7 million doses will go to Asia, and 5 million will go to Africa.

Additionally, about 6 million doses will go directly to countries in need, including India, Iraq, the West Bank, Gaza, Canada and South Korea, and to United Nations front-line workers.

More to come: White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters Thursday this was just the first wave, and more donations will be announced when supplies become available. “Expect a regular cadence of shipments around the world, across the next several weeks,” Zients said.

Biden has also pledged to donate 60 million extra doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine— but those doses have been undergoing a safety review from the Food and Drug Administration and it’s not clear when, or if, that review might conclude. Advocacy groups broadly felt the announcement was insufficient given the global need, but was at least a step in the right direction.

Not diplomacy: The White House took pains to distinguish between its donations and the “vaccine diplomacy” that China and Russia are engaging in.

“We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values,” President Biden said in a statement.