White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients is set to announce the Biden administration is shipping 11 million vaccines doses abroad on Friday, with 9 million going to Africa and another 2 million to other countries around the world, according to remarks obtained by CNN.
The move follows President Joe Biden’s announcement Thursday that the administration will send more than 200 million doses abroad in 100 days, accelerating delivery to high-risk countries. The Friday shipment brings the total number of US-provided doses sent to Africa to 100 million. “The President has been 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 the rest of the world gets vaccinated,” Zients is expected to say, according to the remarks. “And under President Biden’s leadership, the United States is leading the way.”
The Biden administration also will push international partners to take a stronger role in aiding in global vaccine efforts. “From supporting communications campaigns to build vaccine confidence, to funding for vaccinators on the front line — we are leading the global vaccination effort. And we are calling on the rest of the world to step up and join us,” Zients is expected to say.
Friday’s move comes as the Biden administration has faced criticism over recent travel restrictions imposed on eight African countries amid concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Several of the countries under the travel ban have not had a confirmed Omicron case yet. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has likened the widespread travel bans to “travel apartheid.”
Zients also will 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 figure the administration says exceeds the number of doses donated and shipped by all other countries combined. The 11 million doses shipped Friday also exceed the donations of all but seven other countries throughout the pandemic, according to the administration.