US to ship first of 500 million shots pledged by Biden at G7

The doses will be sent to Rwanda through the global Covax initiative

Boxes containing some of 1,008,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine against Covid-19, donated through Covax, on their arrival in El Alto, Bolivia, on July 11. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

US President Joe Biden’s administration is sending 488,370 of Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine doses to Rwanda.

The amount includes the first shipments that are part of a pledge he made at a Group of Seven summit to donate 500 million doses worldwide.

The US will ship the doses this week to Rwanda through Covax, the global vaccine sharing initiative, an official said.

The shipment includes 188,730 doses that are the first instalment under an agreement Mr Biden struck at the G7 meeting, and another 300,000 from surplus US government supplies, which the US has been shipping off steadily.

They will provide a steep boost to Rwanda’s inoculation campaign, which has given out 1 million shots so far, enough for 4.3 per cent of the population, Bloomberg reported.

Authorities in the US and the African nation had worked together to smooth out legal and regulatory hurdles to enable the delivery, the official said.

Mr Biden began donating vaccines abroad as the US inoculation campaign slowed to a crawl in summer, only to rebound in recent weeks as the Delta variant drove a surge in new cases and hospital admissions, overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated.

Vaccines have been widely available in the US for months while most countries deal with shortages.

Mr Biden announced the 500 million pledge at the G7 alongside Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla.

It made up the bulk of 613 million new doses pledged by those nations in a bid to start to narrow a wide gap between wealthy and developing countries on vaccine access.

Updated: August 17, 2021, 7:13 PM