Washington — President Biden on Thursday formally announced that the U.S. is purchasing 500 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for the global supply. The president made the announcement in Cornwall, after what he called a "very productive" meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The president said America knows "firsthand" the tragedy of this pandemic, which has caused more deaths than from World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War and 9/11 "combined." But now that nearly two-thirds of American adults have at least one vaccine shot, Americans can lend a helping hand, he said.
"In this moment, our values call on us to do everything that we can to vaccinate the world against COVID-19," the president said. It's also in America's self-interest. As long as the virus rages elsewhere, there's a risk of new mutations that could threaten our people."
The U.S. will deliver 200 million doses by the end of the year and the remaining 300 million doses in the first half of 2022, according to the White House. Vaccines will begin shipping in August.
Mr. Biden emphasized that the vaccine doses come with "no strings attached."
"We're doing this to save lives — that's it," the president said.
Mr. Biden's speech caps the end of his first full day in the United Kingdom, where he touched down Wednesday for the Group of 7 summit. The trip is his first outside the United States since assuming office in January.
The doses will be distributed through COVAX, the global initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to coronavirus testing and vaccines, and given to 92 low- and middle-income countries and the African Union.
Senior administration officials told reporters the Biden administration will use $2 billion already pledged to COVAX to pay for Pfizer's shots, while the remaining $1.5 billion will come from money already available in the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package enacted in March.
Mr. Biden has already pledged to donate at least 80 million vaccine doses from the U.S. supply by the end of June. This will bring that total to 580 million doses.