WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he hopes by the end of summer to be in a position to provide doses of COVID-19 vaccine to some of the many, mostly poor, nations that have yet to obtain it.
“Hopefully we’re gonna get good enough pretty soon where we have enough that we can give the rest of the world. Because this is something that’s not just, we could solve it here in America if we don’t solve it around the world. You can’t build a wall or a fence high enough to keep out a virus,” he told reporters at the White House.
The United States, which leads the world in COVID-19 deaths with nearly 556,000, has administered more than 165 million doses of vaccine.
Biden said that by April 19, every US adult will be eligible to make an appointment to be vaccinated, about two weeks earlier than the original target date of May 1.
Under contracts signed by the administrations of Biden and predecessor Donald Trump, the US government is set to acquire substantially more vaccine doses than needed to inoculate the entire adult population.
While Washington has agreed to supply 4 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada, US officials have yet to respond publicly to requests from other nations.
Health experts warn that the accumulation of doses by the US and other wealthy countries could mean a lengthy delay in vaccination in developing nations, allowing time for the emergence of additional, potentially more dangerous variants of the virus.
That message appears to have gotten through to the US president.
“Until this vaccine is available to the world, and we’re beating back the virus in other countries, we’re not really completely safe,” Biden said.
Forty percent of US adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 23.2 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The White House projects that there will be enough doses available by the end of May to vaccinate every adult in the US. Even so, officials insist on the need for a cushion in case of problems or in the event that health experts conclude the vaccine should be given to children.