Jan 26, 2022 - World

U.S. has shipped 400 million COVID vaccine doses globally

Workers at Mexico City's International Airport receiving 1.5 million AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines from the U.S. in March 2021.

Workers at Mexico City's International Airport receiving 1.5 million AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines from the U.S. in March 2021. Photo: Gerardo Vieyra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Biden administration said that by the end of Wednesday it will have sent 400 million COVID vaccine doses worldwide.

Why it matters: It's a major milestone, though it's a fraction of the 1.2 billion doses the U.S. has promised to donate to help prevent more deaths and reduce the risk of new COVID variants.

What they're saying: "To put America's leadership in perspective, we have shipped four times more free doses to the world than any other country," White House COVID-⁠19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said during a press briefing Wednesday.

  • "Our tools are working even in the face of a highly transmissible variant, and we continue to move toward a time when COVID won't disrupt our daily lives, a time when COVID is no longer a crisis but rather something we protect against and treat," he added.

The U.S. and other developed nations have faced criticism from the World Health Organization and the global COVAX initiative for designating doses for booster shots.

  • They have argued that the priority should be getting primary COVID-19 doses to people around the world rather than to already vaccinated Americans.

The other side: The U.S. has argued that administering booster shots to Americans will temporarily take away from the global vaccine supply but ultimately won't interfere with the doses it promised to donate.

  • The Biden administration said that, in total, the U.S. will have donated three doses for every one administered in the U.S.

The big picture: More than 4.78 billion people — roughly 62% of the world population — have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, according to a vaccination tracker maintained by the New York Times.

  • African countries, which severely lack access to vaccines, significantly lag behind other countries in terms of vaccinating their populations.
  • Only 15 out of 54 African countries met a goal to vaccinate at least 10% of their populations against the virus by Sept. 30, demonstrating the wide gap in access between poor and wealthy countries.
  • The rise of Omicron, which appears to be more transmissible but less severe than other COVID variants, has sent global cases surging in the last few weeks. But deaths from the virus have remained around 50,000 per week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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