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US to send 13m vaccines to South Asia, other regions

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WASHINGTON: Presi­dent Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the United States would dispatch seven million Covid-19 vaccines to South and Southeast Asia to help regional governments overcome the pandemic.

India, however, will get its share from another tranche of six million vaccines kept aside for the countries experiencing surges, the White House said.

Pakistan and Bangladesh will get their shares from the seven million marked for distribution in South and Southeast Asia.

Under the new programme, the US will donate 75 percent of its unused vaccines to the UN-backed Covax global vaccine sharing programme.

Of the first tranche of 25 million doses, 19 million will go to Covax, the White House announced.

In a statement issued by his office, President Biden said Six million doses would go to Latin America and the Caribbean, seven million to South and Southeast Asia, and five million to Africa.

“We are sharing these doses not to secure favours or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic,” Mr Biden said.

He said the United States was focusing on getting every eligible American vaccinated, but “we also recognise that ending this pandemic means ending it everywhere. As long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable”.

The administration was committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that it demonstrated at home, he added.

Overall, the White House aims to share 80 million doses globally by the end of this month, mostly through Covax. But 25 percent of America’s surplus will be kept in reserve for emergencies at home and to share directly with allies and partners.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2021

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