President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the United States has donated and sent more than 110 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 60 countries to slow the spread of the virus, officials said.
Speaking at the White House, Biden said the vaccines have been delivered to 65 countries that are “among the hardest hit in the world” and are being offered for free with “no demands, no conditions, no coercion attached.”
“We’re doing this to save lives and to end this pandemic,” he said. “That’s it.”
Excess vaccines in the United States have gone to global aid organization COVAX, which provides greater vaccine access in developing nations, the African Union and Caribbean nations through the organization CARICOM.
Biden said the United States has enough vaccine supply to inoculate the entire U.S. population but said it is in the national interest to “attack this virus globally” by sharing vaccines with the world.
He added that the vaccine is the best line of defense against the highly infectious Delta variant that is responsible for more than 80% of current COVID-19 infections in the United States, noting that it developed outside of the country.
“Just like the original virus that caused COVID-19, the Delta variant came from abroad,” he said. “As long as the virus continues to rage outside the United States, potentially more dangerous variants could arrive at our shores again.”
During the news conference, Biden also stressed the threat of the Delta variant within the United States, citing surging case totals among states where the majority of residents are unvaccinated and urged Americans to get the vaccine.
“What’s different about this surge from previous ones is we have the tools to prevent this rise in cases from shutting down our businesses, our schools, our society as we saw last year,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 165 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated to date — and 70% have received at least one dose.
Biden touted his decision to require federal workers and contractors to declare their vaccination status or face tight restrictions if they are unvaccinated while calling on state leaders not to obstruct private entities from implementing their own requirements and restrictions.
Specifically citing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Biden said “the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents” and “bad health policy” while adding he believes more cities and states should require vaccination for places such as restaurants and gyms.
“If some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it,” Biden said. “I say to these governors: Please help. And if you aren’t going to help at least get out of the way of people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”