By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden announced Monday that he will ship at least 20 million COVID-19 vaccines to other countries by the end of June, the first time the United States will share authorized doses for local use.
Biden said his government will send vaccines from Pfizer Inc / BioNTech, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson, which are added to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca, whose use is not approved in the United States.
The measure is a notable turnaround on the part of the White House, which intends to use the supply of vaccines as a diplomatic tool in the face of improving the outlook for the pandemic in the country.
Several states in the United States are experiencing a decline in vaccination, and countries like India are struggling to get shots to contain an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“In the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation is going to be the arsenal of vaccines,” Biden said.
The president has come under pressure to share vaccines to help contain the epidemic in places like India or Brazil, where health experts fear that new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus could undermine the effectiveness of available injections.
The White House has not given details on which countries will receive the doses. Biden said Jeff Zients, who leads America’s vaccination efforts, will now also lead this campaign.
The United States has administered more than 272 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and distributed more than 340 million, according to federal data updated Monday.
Biden warned that those who do not get vaccinated “will end up paying the price” and lamented that “we continue to lose too many Americans” despite significant advances in the immunization campaign.
(Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida and Javier Leira)