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U.S. to Ship First of 500 Million Shots Pledged by Biden at G-7

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden’s administration is sending 488,370 Pfizer Inc. Covid-19 vaccine doses to Rwanda, including the first shipments that are part of a pledge he made at a Group of Seven summit to donate 500 million doses worldwide.

The U.S. will ship the doses this week to Rwanda through Covax, the global vaccine sharing initiative, according to an official familiar with the plan. The shipment includes 188,730 doses that are the first installment under an agreement Biden struck at the G-7 meeting, and another 300,000 from surplus U.S. government supplies, which the U.S. has been shipping off steadily.

The shipments will provide a steep boost to Rwanda’s inoculation campaign, which has given out 1 million shots so far, enough for 4.3% of the population, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Authorities in the U.S. and Rwanda had worked together to smooth out legal and regulatory hurdles to facilitate the delivery, the official said.

Biden has pivoted to donating vaccines abroad as the U.S. campaign slowed to a crawl in summer, only to rebound in recent weeks as the delta variant drove a surge in new cases and hospitalizations, overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated. Vaccines have been widely available in the U.S. for months while most countries grapple with shortages.

Biden announced the 500 million pledge at the G-7 alongside Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla. It made up the bulk of 613 million new doses pledged by those nations in a bid to start to narrow a wide gap between wealthy and developing nations on vaccine access.

The U.S. will ship 200 million of the doses pledged at the summit by the end of this year, and the remaining 300 million by June of 2022, according to Jeff Zients, who serves as Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator. “Everything is on schedule there,” Zients said at a briefing this month.

SOURCE: Josh Wingrove … BLOOMBERG

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