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US signs deal with Pfizer to donate 500 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to over 90 countries, announcement likely today

The donations will go through the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization's (GAVI) COVAX vaccine program that distributes COVID-19 shots to low- and middle-income countries.

June 10, 2021 / 08:27 AM IST
The United States is likely to distribute 200 million shots this year. (Image: Reuters/Carlos Barria)

The United States is likely to distribute 200 million shots this year. (Image: Reuters/Carlos Barria)

The United States President Joe Biden's administration has closed a deal with Pfizer for 500 million doses of its COVID-19 shot, which will be donated to over 90 countries over the next two years.

The United States is likely to distribute 200 million doses this year and another 300 million in the first half of next year to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union, Reuters reported citing sources.

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As per reports, the deal was closed just ahead of Biden's first trip abroad since taking office, an eight-day mission to rebuild trans-Atlantic ties strained during the Trump era and to reframe relations with Russia.

The donations will go through the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization's (GAVI) COVAX vaccine program that distributes COVID-19 shots to low- and middle-income countries.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Biden is likely to announce the deal on June 10 at the Group of Seven meetings of the world's wealthiest countries in Britain, one of the source told Reuters.

Read | COVID-19 Vaccine Update: Pfizer to test jabs in children below 12 years of age

The report also said that the deal was negotiated over the past four weeks by White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients and the coronavirus task force team.

Meanwhile, Biden triumphantly announced that "the United States is back!" as he kicked off his first overseas tour as US president, urging global collaboration and consensus to rebuild after Covid and reset diplomatic ties after the divisive isolation of the Trump era.

On the way, Biden's national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One that the president would kick things off with news of a major vaccine-sharing initiative.

Also read: Quad's commitment to provide a billion vaccines to people in Southeast Asia is on track: White House official

Doses will be aimed at developing countries, he added, calling the US-led initiative "the right thing to do".

"It's what Americans do in times of need. We were the arsenal of democracy in World War II. We're going to be the arsenal of vaccines," Sullivan added.

The Group of Seven will make a further joint declaration on "a comprehensive plan to help end this pandemic as rapidly as possible", he said.

(With inputs from agencies)

Click here for Moneycontrol's full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jun 10, 2021 08:18 am

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