US to donate 9 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Africa

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The White House response coordinator to the coronavirus, Jeffrey Zients, is expected to announce that the Biden government will ship, this Friday (3rd), 11 million doses of vaccines against Covid-19 abroad – 9 million to Africa and another 2 million to other countries around the world – according to a statement obtained by CNN.

The measure follows President Joe Biden’s announcement, made on Thursday (2), that the government will send more than 200 million doses abroad in the next 100 days, speeding up delivery in high-risk countries. Friday’s shipment brings the total number of US doses shipped to Africa to 100 million.

“The president was clear from the start: if we want to protect the American people and our economy, we must defeat the virus everywhere. That means we must ensure that the rest of the world is vaccinated,” Zients is expected to say, according to the draft statement. “And under President Biden’s leadership, the United States is leading the way.”

The Biden government will also press international partners to take a stronger role in supporting global vaccine efforts.

“From supporting communication campaigns to increase trust in vaccines to funding frontline vaccinators – we are leading the global immunization effort. And we’re calling on the rest of the world to join us,” Zients is expected to say.

Friday’s decision comes as the Biden government faces criticism over recent travel restrictions imposed on eight African countries amid concerns over the Ômicron variant of the coronavirus. Several of the countries under the travel ban have yet to have a confirmed Ômicron case. UN Secretary-General António Guterres compared widespread travel bans to “travel apartheid”.

Zients will also highlight the Biden administration’s progress in global vaccination efforts so far – noting a commitment of 1.2 billion doses worldwide and 280 million doses already donated and shipped to 110 countries, a number the government says exceeds the number of doses donated and sent by all other countries together. The 11 million doses shipped this Friday also exceed donations from all but seven other countries during the pandemic, according to the government.

Since the emergence of the Ômicron variant, the Biden government has urged its international partners to increase vaccine donations worldwide. Biden also called on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to drop intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines to increase manufacturing worldwide.

The Ômicron variant has also prompted the United States and other countries to enact travel restrictions on South Africa and seven other Southern African countries, a move that has drawn criticism from world and travel industry leaders. Government officials defended the decision, arguing that the restrictions give the US more time to assess the effect of the new variant and should not be permanent.

“The President is briefed each day by his Covid team and will continue to evaluate, based on their recommendations, any further steps that need to be taken,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday. “The implementation of these travel restrictions was intended to give us more time to do the assessment, data and testing necessary for our healthcare specialists to work 24 hours a day. And they made this assessment and recommendation about the countries where we would put these travel restrictions to give us that time.”

Ômicron’s first case was reported in the United States on Wednesday, and cases have already been detected in at least five states, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota and New York, according to local health officials.

The Biden government administration is also implementing new international travel requirements ahead of the possible Covid-19 increase in winter. Starting on Monday, international travelers arriving in the country will need to obtain a negative test one day prior to departure to the United States – a change from the previous three-day requirement. Any foreign national traveling to the US must provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

The US is also extending its domestic travel mask requirement until mid-March, and the White House said this week that the domestic travel vaccine requirement remains under discussion.

As part of winter preparations for Covid-19, Biden also announced expansion of immunization and enforcement efforts, as well as a requirement that insurers pay for in-home testing.

* Translated material. Read the original here.

Reference: CNN Brasil

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