Op-ed by Secretary Blinken & White House COVID-19 Coordinator Jeff Zients: There is no choice between vaccinating Americans and vaccinating the&#8

There is no choice between vaccinating Americans and vaccinating the world. We must do both.


Opinion by Antony Blinken

Jeffrey Zients

The Washington Post 

September 22: Jeffrey Zients is the White House coronavirus response coordinator. Antony Blinken is the U.S. secretary of state.

Since day one, President Biden has been clear that the only way to defeat covid-19 — and protect the American people and the U.S. economy — is to defeat the virus both here at home and around the world. Our most powerful weapon in this fight is safe and effective vaccines.

Vaccinating Americans and vaccinating people around the world aren’t a choice; they are an imperative. That’s why we’re doing both.

So far, the United States has committed to donate more than 630 million coronavirus vaccine doses globally. Nearly 160 million of those doses are already on the ground in more than 100 countries — from Peru to Pakistan, Sri Lanka to Sudan, El Salvador to Ethiopia, Mexico to Morocco, and Cameroon to Cambodia. The United States has now delivered more doses than every other country in the world, combined. And millions more free doses are shipped each day.

President Biden will announce on Wednesday that his administration will do even more. After purchasing 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in June to donate to the world, we’ll double that commitment, purchasing an additional 500 million Pfizer doses to give to low- and lower-middle-income countries around the globe.

This is a monumental commitment by the United States, bringing our total number of donated vaccines to the world to more than 1.1 billion. For every one shot we’ve put in an American arm to date, we are now donating about three shots globally.

These doses are donated, not sold. They are shared with no strings attached or promises exacted.

Our ability to lead the global vaccination effort is a result of careful planning that began at the start of the Biden administration. Early on, we secured enough vaccine supply for every American and took steps to secure additional supply in case boosters were needed. The president committed to the American people that we would never again find ourselves in a place where we lacked the supply needed to fight this unpredictable virus.

At the same time, we planned to get vaccines to the world, helping our domestic manufacturers ramp up vaccine production and purchasing hundreds of million doses for the sole purpose of giving them to others. And today, the president doubled that commitment, even as we continue to vaccinate Americans and prepare to protect them with booster shots as early as this week.

Just as the United States was the arsenal of democracy during World War II, in this war against the virus, we have now become the arsenal of vaccines for the world.

But we are not acting alone. This is a global pandemic. And it needs a global response. That’s why we are working with allies and international organizations — including the Group of Seven and the Quad — to close the gap once and for all between ambition and need.

President Biden, following the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, will bring together global leaders and the private sector to renew his call for us all to act with urgency and do our part.

These vaccines, including the almost 160 million shipped out to date, are helping save lives now. That is critical, as nearly 5 million people around the world have succumbed to this virus.

We know more is needed; we must take additional steps. That is why the president has tasked us with continuing our efforts to ramp up manufacturing here and abroad, to build out a sustainable supply chain and to increase capacity globally to make vaccines for this and future pandemics. We will also continue to do more to get shots into arms in countries around the world by significantly scaling up our efforts to assist with logistics and delivery, increase equitable access and make vaccines more available.

America is committed to beating covid-19. We are committed to working with the rest of the world to do it. And we will not stop until we get the job done.