The Biden administration is considering sending vaccines to allies and neighboring countries to counter China’s “vaccine diplomacy.”
Though the United States accounts for 27% of international vaccine production, it is distributing 0% of it internationally. China produces 33% of the world’s doses but has distributed 62% of those doses to other countries.
As China begins vaccine drives in Latin America and Asia, experts have called on the Biden administration to foster allies and strengthen relationships with other countries by entering the global vaccination race.
“We’re going to have excess supply,” said Zeke Emanuel, an early member of Biden’s coronavirus task force. “It would be unethical, and it would be a diplomatic and strategic mistake, to say we need to build up a buffer of 100 million doses while China and Russia are selling to people and saying, you know, ‘You guys count,'” he told Axios.
Emanuel said he expected a shift to happen in June or July, when the United States manages to vaccinate the majority of its population and will have a significant surplus to be able to distribute internationally. The United States has already purchased enough doses to vaccinate 500 million people; the American adult population is roughly 250 million.
Last week, Biden announced the U.S. would send four million of its surplus AstraZeneca doses to Mexico and Canada.