The Biden administration is deeply focused on the issue of expanding global vaccine manufacturing and delivery, a State Department official said on Tuesday.
The official, however, refrained from indicating the position of the US on the request by several countries led by India and South Africa for intellectual property waiver of COVID-19 vaccines before the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“I don’t have anything specific to preview or to add on our position at the WTO. It is safe to say that the president is deeply focused, Secretary (of State, Tony) Blinken is deeply focused, on the issue of expanding global vaccine manufacturing and delivery, which, of course, will be critical to ending this pandemic,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference.
Reiterating Biden and Blinken, Price said that the first priority is to take care of the American people.
“We are a country, of course, that has suffered tremendously from the toll of the pandemic,” he said.
“We have suffered more deaths in this country than any other country around the world. And, given the unpredictability of this virus, the surges, the spikes that we have seen here, the mutations that we can continue to see take hold, not only here but around the world, we need to be prepared for a variety of scenarios. And, that is precisely what we are doing,” he added.
“At the same time, as we increase confidence that we have enough vaccine for the American people, that we have accounted for various scenarios, we will look at options for sharing doses globally, including through Gavi and the COVAX Advance Market Commitment or the AMC. But we already have taken important steps to demonstrate the sort of international leadership,” Price said.
As long as the virus is circulating in the wild, as long as the virus is not controlled anywhere, it has the potential to mutate. It has the potential to come back to this country, he added.
“So that is why from literally day one, we have demonstrated our commitment to working closely with the international community. We, of course, re-engaged the WHO on President Biden’s first day in office. We committed to providing the most funding to COVAX of any other country in the world – USD 2 billion initially, another 2 billion over time,” he said.
He said they will continue to be engaged on the international stage just as they continue to focus on a safe and effective distribution of the vaccine here at home.
“We have, of course, spoken about the arrangement that we have reached with our Mexican and Canadian partners. And, we announced with our Quad partners that we’re working to achieve expanded manufacturing of safe and effective vaccines at facilities in India.
“This in turn produced a boost production globally, so we will continue to be engaged on the international stage just as we continue to focus on a safe and effective distribution of the vaccine here at home,” Price said.