White House to send 20 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine to other countries

Brings total commitment to 80 million doses
President Joe Biden
Posted at 11:35 AM, May 17, 2021

President Joe Biden said Monday that the U.S. will be sharing 20 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines with the rest of the world in the coming weeks.

In remarks delivered from the White House, Biden said that the federal government will be donating 20 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to other countries over the next six weeks.

The administration has previously committed to donating 60 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine to the rest of the world. That vaccine has not yet been approved for use in the U.S.

Biden clarified Monday that the AstraZeneca doses will not be shipped overseas until the vaccine is approved for emergency use by the CDC and the FDA.

"We want to lead the world with our values," Biden said.

In announcing the new effort, Biden said that ultimately, total protection from the virus will come when the entire world has been inoculated from COVID-19.

"No ocean is wide enough, no wall is high enough to keep us safe," Biden said, referring to the threat of the spread of the virus.

Biden's address on Monday came less than a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that anyone two weeks removed from their final vaccine dose could safely go without masks and social distancing in most situations.

In several media appearances on Sunday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that the science now pointed to the fact that those vaccinated are unlikely to spread the virus without masks, adding that those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks and social distance.

"We are asking people to be honest with themselves," Walensky said. "If they are vaccinated and they are not wearing a mask, they are safe. If they are not vaccinated and they're not wearing a mask, they are not safe."

Following the CDC announcement, some of the U.S.'s largest retailers — including Walmart and Target — announced they were rolling back their masks requirements. Other retailers are expected to follow suit in the days ahead.

Given that several major retailers are still asking customers to wear masks, and that some Americans may be facing re-entry anxiety, Biden asked all Americans to be patient in the event they are still asked to wear masks.

"Let's all be kind and respectful as we come out of this," Biden said.