The administration of US President Joe Biden said approximately 7 million doses will be distributed to 17 Asian nations, including the Philippines, from the first tranche of vaccines Washington will donate across the world.
Detailing its plans to share a first tranche of 25 million doses, the White House said almost 19 million of these will be shared through COVAX, out of which seven million will be delivered to the following Asian countries and entities: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, and the Pacific Islands.
Another 60 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc's vaccine remains on USA shelves, despite Biden's repeated promises to export them.
The United States earlier pledged to provide up to 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 20 million doses that have already been approved for use in the United States.
The brand of vaccines was not divulged by the White House.
The vaccine allocation to Taiwan can be seen as the latest sign of US support for the self-ruled democratic island facing pressure from mainland China.
"We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions", Biden said. To date, Mexico and Canada have received a combined 4.5 million doses, with the US loaning Canada 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford doses in March.
"As long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable", Biden said in a statement on Thursday.
The much-anticipated vaccine sharing plan becomes a reality just as the desire for vaccines begins to wane in the United States among those who are eligible. Just like in the United States, we will move as expeditiously as possible, while abiding by USA and host country regulatory and legal requirements, to facilitate the safe and secure transport of vaccines across worldwide borders.
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He added that store-bought masks are "not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through material". This May, Dr Fauci said he is "not convinced" the virus originated naturally and expressed support for an investigation.
The U.S. has committed more than $4 billion to COVAX, but with vaccine supplies short - and wealthy nations locking up majority - the greater need than funding has been immediate access to actual doses, to overcome what health officials have long decried as unequal access to the vaccines.
Vice President Kamala Harris informed some USA partners they will begin receiving doses, in separate calls with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago.
Under the new programme, the United States will donate 75 percent of its unused vaccines to the UN-backed Covax global vaccine sharing programme. "We shouldn't tie the distribution or access to vaccines to politics or to geopolitics", he said. South and Central America and Africa will also receive bulk shipments. The U.S. has also announced plans to share enough shots with South Korea to vaccinate its 550,000 troops who serve alongside American service members on the peninsula.
However, Tom Hart the acting CEO of The ONE Campaign, said that while Thursday's announcement was a "welcome step, the Biden administration needs to commit to sharing more doses".
Biden said that the remaining six million doses of the initial 25 million will be shared directly with countries experiencing surges or that are in crisis, as well as with partners and neighbors like Canada, Mexico and South Korea. PM Modi thanked VP Harris for assurance of vaccine supply to India. "It's a good start, and I am hoping that more doses will be made available", World Bank President David Malpass said.
As part of its purchase agreements with drug manufacturers, the US controlled the initial production by its domestic manufacturers.
As of now, the federal government has hundreds of millions of doses - of both authorized and in-development vaccines - on order.
The sharing of millions of US vaccines with other countries signals a major commitment by the USA government.