U. S. to donate first 25 million COVID-19 vaccines asap, including 7 million to Asia

By Laxman Datt Pant

U. S. to donate first 25 million COVID-19 vaccines asap, including 7 million to Asia

The U.S has unveiled its plan to donate the first 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine with the shipment to be made shortly after the announcement. This consignment is part of the 80 million doses the Biden administration has pledged to make available by the end of June. Up to 75% of this first batch of 25 million doses will be distributed via the UN-led COVAX vaccine supply platform, the US announced.

Of these, approximately 7 million doses will go to Asian countries, including India and Nepal, which are among the worst hit by the pandemic. In addition, India will receive a consignment of vaccines directly from the U.S., a statement issued on 3 June by the Biden administration read.

The Biden administration has not specified the exact number each country will receive but indicated that Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, and the Pacific Islands were also on the list.

Apart from Asia, the vaccines to be distributed through COVAX include 6 million for South and Central America and five million for Africa. The remaining 6 million vaccines that the U.S will donate directly are intended for countries in need especially those experiencing surges, their immediate neighbors, and countries that have requested urgent U.S. assistance.

Via this announcement, the administration reiterated that the vaccine strategy remains a vital component of the overall global strategy to lead the world in the fight to defeat COVID-19.

“Vaccines will not be used to secure favors from other countries,” the statement read.

Welcoming the U.S. decision to donate COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal, K P Sharma Oli, the Prime Minister of Nepal, thanked the U.S. government for responding to Nepal’s appeal for the precious life-saving doses of vaccines adding that this reaffirms the strength of Nepal-U.S. friendship.

The U.S. announced its decision to make the donation on the same day the regional director of WHO South-East Asia, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, called for global solidarity to address the rapid surge of COVID-19 in the region where millions of new cases have been registered over the past five weeks.

“Lives and livelihoods are at stake, as is the sustainable development of a region that is home to over 2 billion people – one-fourth of the world’s population. It is only through solidarity, and by sustaining region-wide resolve, that we can drive infection down,” Poonam Khetrapal Singh said, addressing a meeting of member countries and health partners on 3 June.

“To all partners, my message today is one of steadfast solidarity and steely resolve: Together, we must stay the course and see this challenge through,” the regional director concluded.