US upping vaccine help for African countries

The Biden administration is increasing support for COVID-19 vaccinations to 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa as part of a broader effort to boost vaccination rates.

The effort from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will focus on getting shots into arms in Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Ghana, Lesotho, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Experts have urged more action on global vaccinations both for humanitarian reasons and even for the self-interest of wealthier countries like the United States, given that new variants of the virus can develop anywhere and end up threatening the whole world.

The surge in support, which was first reported by The Washington Post, comes as part of a broader effort, called the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access, that was announced in December with $315 million for vaccine delivery.

Will White House ask for more funding? Some advocates and Democrats in Congress have been urging the Biden administration to step up its efforts to vaccinate the world, including with support for $17 billion in additional funding for global vaccination efforts, as well as moves to share the know-how for making vaccines and to ramp up manufacturing.

It remains unclear whether the Biden administration will request more funding for global vaccinations from Congress, after officials signaled a need for $30 billion more in funds focused on domestic needs earlier this week.