WASHINGTON—President Biden will announce a total of $4 billion in U.S. contributions to the international Covax program, administration officials said Thursday, directly engaging the nation in global efforts to supply Covid-19 vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.
Mr. Biden will detail his plans at a virtual meeting Friday with G-7 leaders, where topics are expected to include the world-wide response to the pandemic, efforts to revive the global economy, climate change and tensions with China.
In a call with reporters Thursday, senior administration officials said Mr. Biden would announce an initial $2 billion investment and call on other nations to join the World Health Organization vaccination effort and bolster their commitments. The Biden administration said the initial contribution will come from funding appropriated by Congress in December, which is expected to be disbursed by the end of this month.
The U.S. will begin releasing an additional $2 billion through 2021 and 2022, officials said, when other countries meet their existing donor pledges and initial doses of the vaccine are delivered to low- and middle-income countries.
A White House official said the Biden administration’s commitment is “to ensure that there is global access to equitable, safe and effective vaccines to help beat the pandemic.”
“This pandemic is not going to end unless we end it globally,” the official added.
The Trump administration opted out of the Covax project after former President Donald Trump took steps to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization over its ties to China. Upon taking office in January, Mr. Biden moved quickly to reverse Mr. Trump’s decision. His administration also immediately expressed its intention to commit to the multilateral effort on global vaccinations.
Covax aims to provide free Covid-19 vaccines to at least 20% of the populations of the world’s 92 poorest countries by the end of 2021. Just over 50 other nations, including Canada and upper-middle income nations such as South Africa and Mexico, have also ordered vaccines through Covax but have to pay for the doses themselves.
Mr. Biden will also call on G-7 and other nations to put billions more in resources toward expanding global Covid-19 vaccinations and bolstering the manufacturing, supply and delivery of the vaccine, officials said.
Covax says it has negotiated deals for about 2.27 billion doses of vaccines this year. Most countries will get a first shipment in March, with some small deliveries expected in late February.
Some countries have made bilateral donations of the vaccine to neighboring nations. Biden administration officials stopped short of saying if the U.S. would donate surplus vaccines, emphasizing the need to first inoculate the American public against the virus.
“Our current focus is on vaccinating Americans, getting shots in arms here, and in supporting the Covax efforts,” an official said.
The Biden administration has secured contracts with Pfizer and Moderna for more than 200 million additional doses of the vaccine, which the president has said should enable most of the adult U.S. population to be vaccinated by the end of the summer.