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Biden. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty

The U.S. is committing $2 billion for the global COVAX vaccine initiative within days (using funds already allocated by Congress), plus an additional $2 billion over the next two years, the White House announced ahead of Friday's virtual G7 summit.

Why it matters: Senior administration officials told reporters Thursday evening that they'll use those commitments to "call on G7 partners Friday both to make good on the pledges that are already out there" and to make further investments in global vaccine manufacturing and distribution.

Yes, but: The discussion around COVID-19 aid is beginning to shift from dollars to doses. French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that it's time for Europe and the U.S. to begin supplying developing countries with COVID-19 vaccines.

The state of play: The U.S. has purchased 1.2 billion doses — enough to fully vaccinate every American adult 2.5 times over, assuming additional vaccines like Johnson & Johnson's are approved.

  • The situation is similar in other rich countries. Doses remain scarce for now, but supply will eventually far outstrip demand.

What they're saying: Macron told the FT that the U.S. and EU should begin sharing before that happens, sending 3–5% of all available doses to poor countries in parallel with the domestic rollout. He said the proposal already had German Chancellor Angela Merkel's support, and he hoped to convince Biden as well.

  • “We are allowing the idea to take hold that hundreds of millions of vaccines are being given in rich countries and that we are not starting in poor countries,” Macron said.
  • That "unprecedented acceleration of global inequality" was paving the way for "a war of influence over vaccines," Macron said, and playing into the hands of Russia and China, which are exporting state-funded vaccines around the world.

The other side: The White House said on Thursday's briefing call that the administration planned to turn to donations only after all U.S. demand was met.

  • "When we have a sufficient supply, it is our intention to consider donating surplus vaccines," one senior official said.
  • Asked about Macron's comments and the timeline on donations, another official said, "There are a lot of options on the table, but I don't think we should get locked down in what we might do once the U.S. population is vaccinated."

Go deeper: America’s extra vaccine doses could be key to global supply

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Feb 18, 2021 - Health

U.K. to infect healthy people with COVID for world's first "human challenge trial"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The U.K. plans to intentionally infect healthy volunteers with the coronavirus in the world's first "human challenge trial," the goal being to enhance understanding of the virus, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The effort is controversial, but the government says the study will help with developing new treatments and vaccines for the virus.

Feb 18, 2021 - Health

Fauci: Some vaccine shipments slowed "to a grinding halt" due to historic winter storm

Coronavirus vaccine shipments have slowed "to a grinding halt" in some areas affected by a devastating winter storm and freezing temperatures, Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, told MSNBC on Thursday.

Driving the news: A winter storm is still tracking along the Southeast coast, leaving heavy snow and ice along the mid-Atlantic, the National Weather Service said in an early Thursday morning update. Texas has been hit the hardest by the storm, with just under 500,000 people still without power after several days.