US to detail global distribution plan for 80 million vaccine doses 

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WASHINGTON, June 2 (PTI): In the next two weeks, the US will detail plans to equitably distribute about 80 million (8 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses globally without “political requirements” of those receiving them, secretary of state Antony Blinken has said.
The Biden administration had been under pressure to send the excess Covid-19 vaccines with the US to nations like India, which are facing severe vaccine shortages.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado in San Jose on Tuesday, Blinken said the US will focus on equity, on the equitable distribution of vaccines.
“We’ll focus on science; we’ll work in coordination with COVAX and we will distribute vaccines without political requirements of those receiving them,” he said.
Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organisation.
President Joe Biden on May 17 said the US will share 20 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses with other countries, taking the total number of such shots to 80 million.
The additional 20 million doses will be of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, on top of 60 million AstraZeneca Plc doses he had already planned to give to other countries.
“In March, we shared over four million doses of our AstraZeneca vaccine with Canada and Mexico. At the end of April, we announced that we would provide another 60 million doses of our AstraZeneca vaccine overseas,” Biden had said.
AstraZeneca vaccine has not been authorised for use in the US yet, and it is awaiting safety clearance by the US Food and Drug Administration.
“I think you heard President Biden a couple of weeks ago announce that we will be making available globally about 80 million vaccine doses that we have access to between now and the end of June,” Blinken said.
“And in the next week or so sometime in the next week to two weeks we will be announcing the process by which we will distribute those vaccines, what the criteria are, how we will do it,” Blinken said.
“And so I expect that there will be news in much more detail within the next two weeks,” he added.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar, who visited the US last month, also said that the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccines were an important part of his discussions in the US.
“There was also of course the Covid-19 context because of the vaccine partnership between India and the US, and also Quad-based discussions on vaccines. That was also one of the important subjects. In fact, in many ways, I would say the most important subject of my discussion,” the minister said.
He also said the endeavour was to expand the production of vaccines in India with assistance from the United States.

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