Washington — President Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. has donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 60 countries as part of broader efforts to combat the pandemic abroad.
Mr. Biden marked the milestone in remarks delivered from the White House, during which he also detailed efforts to boost vaccination rates in the U.S., which is experiencing a surge in infections and hospitalizations driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.
"We have a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Mr. Biden said, stressing the vaccines' effectiveness in preventing hospitalizations and death due to COVID-19. "This is a tragedy. People are dying and will die who don't have to die."
To help stop the spread of the coronavirus worldwide, the president in June vowed the U.S. would donate at least 80 million vaccine doses from the nation's supply to countries abroad. The White House said the majority of the doses sent overseas were shipped through COVAX, a global initiative working to ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines.
"From the beginning of my presidency, I've been very clear-eyed that we need to attack this virus globally, not just at home, because it's in America's self-interest to do so," Mr. Biden said. "The virus knows no boundaries. You can't build a wall high enough to keep it out."
Video: Biden says U.S. to donate 500 million doses to global COVID-19 vaccine supply "with no strings attached" (CBS News)
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The Biden administration is poised to start shipping 500 million doses of Pfizer's two-shot vaccine that the U.S. pledged to donate to low-income countries.
"This is about our values," the president said. "We value the inherent dignity of all people, the inherent dignity of everyone. In times of trouble, Americans reach out to offer a helping hand. That's who we are."
A breakdown of the vaccine doses sent abroad from the Biden administration shows the most went to Indonesia, which received 8 million shots, followed by the Philippines with 6.2 million and Colombia, which was sent 6 million doses.?
The spread of the Delta variant has prompted some places overseas to return to lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions, including mask mandates. But concerns about the new strain, which is dominant in the U.S., has also led to a rise in vaccination rates.?
Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said Monday there has been a nearly 70% increase in the average number of new people getting vaccinated each day. In the last week, 3 million Americans received their first shots, the highest seven-day total since July 4, he said.