US President Joe Biden in Washington, the US, June 2 2021. Picture: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA
US President Joe Biden in Washington, the US, June 2 2021. Picture: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA

US President Joe Biden’s administration intends to buy 500-million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to share internationally, as the US turns its attention to combating the pandemic globally, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The government will buy about 200-million doses in 2021 to distribute through Covax, the World Health Organization-backed initiative aimed at securing an equitable global distribution of the vaccine, and about 300-million doses in the first half of next year, the person said.

The vaccines will go to 92 lower-income countries and the AU, the person said. Biden will announce the plan Thursday in remarks ahead of the Group of Seven summit in the UK.

The pace of the US domestic vaccination campaign has slowed by about two-thirds since April, and Biden has come under rising pressure internationally to share his government’s vaccine stockpile with nations still hard-hit by the pandemic.

Biden said before departing for the G-7 on Wednesday that he would announce a global vaccination strategy during his travels. He did not elaborate.

The plan to buy 500-million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine was reported earlier by the Washington Post. Representatives for Pfizer didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

Pfizer and its vaccine partner, BioNTech, already have an agreement to supply Covax with 40-million doses, but the group pleaded with global leaders in May to provide far more, saying it needed to provide 2-billion doses in 2021.

“Even though Covax will have larger volumes available later in the year through the deals it has already secured with several manufacturers, if we do not address the current, urgent shortfall the consequences could be catastrophic,” Covax said in a statement.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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