Feb 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

U.S. to spend $250 million in vaccine support to African countries

Picture of a man closing his eyes as he gets vaccinated

A Tanzanian medic injects a dose of the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson. Photo: STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration will ramp up its support of efforts to vaccinate the world with a "surge" in assistance to 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a USAID spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

Why it matters: The global supply of vaccines has largely gone to developed nations. Officials worry that new COVID-19 variants could emerge from countries with low vaccination rates.

State of play: Through the Global VAX Initiative, the U.S. will prioritize Angola, Ivory Coast, Eswatini, Ghana, Lesotho, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to receive "intensive" support for their vaccine campaigns, according to the spokesperson.

  • "These countries will receive increased U.S. Government engagement and funding to rapidly assess needs and scale up the rate of vaccination, including support from experts here in the U.S. and in the field," the spokesperson said.
  • The U.S. will spend $250 million on the effort, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the news.

By the numbers: The countries have vaccinated less than 40% of their total population, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

  • Zoom in: Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Senegal have inoculated less than 10% of their population.
  • Only 15 out of 54 African countries met a goal to vaccinate at least 10% of their populations against the virus by Sept. 30.
  • New case studies from USAID show an increase in the rate of vaccinations for some of the nations in recent weeks, which the agency says is due in part to the U.S.' involvement.

The big picture: Developing nations often lack the resources needed to store and administer vaccine doses that have been donated by wealthier countries including the U.S., which has shipped over 400 million doses globally.

  • "Without some kind of intervention, people who live in low-income countries will keep dying long into the future as the virus keeps circulating, and the risk of dangerous new variants will rise," Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.
Go deeper