Biden pledges up to 4bn dollars to support global Covax campaign

US President Joe Biden has pledged up to four billion dollars to support the Covax programme to share Covid-19 vaccines fairly between richer and poorer countries.

“Tomorrow at the G7, the President will announce that he is taking concrete steps to improve the health and the safety of Americans by protecting vulnerable populations worldwide,” the White House said in a statement issued Thursday.

The US will provide an initial 2-billion-dollar contribution to Gavi, the public-private vaccine alliance that coordinates the Covax project.

Washington will release an additional 2 billion dollars through 2021 and 2022 “of which the first 500 million dollars are to be made available when existing donor pledges are fulfilled and initial doses are delivered,” the White House added.

“We also call on our G7 and other partners to work alongside Gavi, to bring in billions more in resources to support global COVID-19 vaccination, and to target urgent vaccine manufacturing, supply, and delivery needs,” according to the statement.

The UN-led initiative is planning to supply 337.2 million doses, mostly to developing countries, in the first half of the year, organizations involved said earlier this month.

This is enough to immunize nearly 169 million people with two shots – or around 3 per cent of the population in the 145 countries taking part in the Covax scheme.

While many recipient countries will buy doses at affordable prices through Covax, the scheme covers the costs for 92 poorer countries.