The United States says it is stepping up efforts to boost COVID-19 vaccine production and continue donating vaccines to poor countries, reaching a goal of ending the pandemic by next fall. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday the U.S. has brokered a deal for Johnson & Johnson vaccines to be sent to people living in conflict zones.
Blinken made the remarks during a virtual COVID-19 Ministerial that he convened with his counterparts from other countries and international organizations.
“I’m pleased to share that the United States has helped broker a deal between J & J and COVAX to facilitate the first delivery of J & J vaccines to people living in conflict zones, and other humanitarian settings,” said Blinken during Wednesday’s opening remarks.
COVAX is the international vaccine sharing mechanism for the world’s poorest nations supported by the United Nations and the health organizations Gavi and CEPI.
The U.S. secretary of state announced other steps, including a comprehensive COVID data tracker created by the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization and the World Bank.
A new public-private partnership has also been established, under which leading private sector companies will work pro bono to share their expertise to support vaccination campaigns, managing supply chains, and helping to deliver vaccine shots as quickly and safely as possible.
Wednesday’s announcement comes after Moderna said it would sell up to 110 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to African Union member nations. The continent is facing a vaccine shortage.
Last month, the White House said the U.S. is sending more than 4.8 million coronavirus vaccine doses to four African nations, including Chad, Egypt, Gabon, and Kenya. U.S. officials said the 55-member African Union determined the allocations.
“In North America, in Europe, more than half the population is fully vaccinated,” Blinken said during the virtual ministerial Wednesday. “In Africa, less than 10% of the population is. We’ve got to close that gap.”
The meeting follows a September COVID-19 summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden, where participating countries set a goal of ending the pandemic by the UN General Assembly in 2022.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly two years ago has resulted in more than 5 million deaths worldwide.
Officials said the United States has delivered over 235 million doses to over a hundred countries, and will continue to ship vaccines to various countries regularly.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had set a goal of vaccinating at least 70% of the world by next September in every country.