Tuesday’s analysis shows that the Biden administration will likely miss its modest goal to donate more than 1 million coronavirus vaccine doses worldwide by September. This concern was acknowledged tacitly by the White House last week when it omitted the timeline from its new Covid-19. preparedness plan.
Authored by Zain Rizvi of Public Citizen and Jo Walker, a PhD student in Yale’s Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, the new report finds that the Biden administration is set to fall short of its vaccine donation commitment “absent a surge of funding and political support for global vaccinations.”
“By the end of February, the U.S. had shipped 474 million doses, donating doses at a rate of 60 million in recent months,” the report notes. “To meet the 1.1 billion dose target, the U.S. would have to donate 626 million doses in seven months, or about 90 million doses per month. That would require increasing the donation rate by 50%.”
NEW: The Biden Administration is not on track for fulfilling its commitment to donate 1.2 billion vaccines this year. The White House quietly changed the timeline in its pandemic plan.
— Zain Rizvi (@zainrizvi) March 8, 2022
Experts are warningThe failure to reach sufficient global vaccination against the coronavirus has been a constant concern since the start the vaccine rollout. This almost guarantees that new mutations will be discovered and spread, prolonging the deadly pandemic as well as its devastating social consequences.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 90 countries are not ready to fully vaccinate 70% their population by July 2022. Our World in Data has just revealed that 13.6% of low-income populations have received at most one coronavirus vaccine. This is despite rich nations continuing to hoard key technology and doses.
In interviewWith the New York Times, Rizvi said it is “shocking” that the Biden administration is struggling to meet donation commitments that advocacy groups have criticized as inadequate. Public health campaigners also criticize the Biden White House’s focus on vaccine charity and neglecting technology transfer.
In the new report, Rizvi and Walker note that “after a brief spike in December, donations in January and February lagged behind the required pace.”
“The reason for the delay is unclear,” the report states. “But it comes after a Politico story in June reported that the Biden administration had used more than a billion dollars intended to assist countries with vaccine distribution to pay for Pfizer vaccines.”
Last month Politico reported that the Biden administration is “running out of money to support the global vaccination push, and negotiations with Congress on securing new funding have stalled.” Such cash shortages are an indication that “more delays may be coming,” Rizvi and Walker write.
“Biden promised a war time effort against the virus,” the report continues, alluding to president’s vow to make the U.S. the “vaccine arsenal” of the world. “But a narrow reliance on donations, without a larger strategy on delivery and manufacturing, has undermined the global vaccination effort. The Biden administration can quickly request additional funding from Congress to make bold investments in delivery and manufacturing. One million lives may be at stake.”
Rizvi and Walker’s analysis was released days after the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that “while the U.S. has contributed far more [coronavirus vaccine doses] than any other donor, its rank falls considerably when standardized by GDP.”
“The U.S. falls to 6th when ranked by pledged doses per $1 million GDP and is more in line, but still lower than, other large economies such as Germany and France,” KFF notes. “By this measure, Bhutan ranks first, followed by the Maldives, Germany, France, New Zealand, and then the U.S.”