By Humeyra Pamuk
SANJOSE, Costa Rica -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that President Joe Biden could announce as early as Thursday details of Washington’s plan for distributing 80 million doses of coronavirus vaccine globally.
“I want you to know as well that in a few short days … possibly as early as tomorrow, the president is going to announce in more detail the plan that he’s put together to push out 80 million vaccines around the world,” said Blinken at a gathering at the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica.
Blinken reiterated that the U.S. distribution plan would be coordinated with the COVAX vaccine sharing facility and based on need “without any political strings attached.”
“Even as we’re doing that we’re to be working very hard on increasing manufacturing capacity in the United States and around the world, so that we can get … ahead of this virus, and be the leader in vaccinating the world,” he said.
Blinken said that the trajectory of vaccinations just a few weeks ago was such that 70%-80% of people globally would not be vaccinated until 2024.
“We can speed this up, we’re going to speed this up,” he said. “I think we have an opportunity to get this done by the end of next year. So stay tuned for that.”
Blinken had said in a news conference in Costa Rica on Tuesday that the Biden administration would focus on equitable distribution of the vaccines and not tie political strings to the process, a criticism at times directed at China.
Biden has said his administration will send abroad at least 20 million doses of the Pfizer Inc.N>/BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, on top of 60 million AstraZeneca Plc doses he had already planned to give to other countries.
The Biden administration has been under pressure to share vaccines to help curb worsening outbreaks from India to Brazil, where health experts fear new, more contagious coronavirus variants could undermine the effectiveness of available shots.