In several nations, Victor Guevara knows, citizens his age have been inoculated against COVID-19. His own Houston families have been immunized.
From Shortage To Surplus, The United States Is Being Pressured To Share Vaccines
However, like so many others in his nation, the 72-year-old Honduran lawyer is still waiting. And he’s starting to wonder why the US isn’t doing anything to help, especially when vaccine production in the US continues to outstrip demand, and vaccines that have been accepted for use elsewhere in the world but not in the US remain unused.
Guevara described the situation in his native Central America as “a state of defenselessness at every stage.”
For its ten million residents, Honduras has only received 59,000 vaccine doses. Vaccine coverage shortages can also be seen in regions of Asia and Africa, where only 36 million doses have been obtained for the continent’s 1.3 billion inhabitants.
Over one-fourth of the populace of the United States — almost 90 million citizens — has been completely inoculated, and stocks are so plentiful that some states are refusing federal shipments.
As a result of this stark access gap, there are growing demands for the United States to begin exporting vaccine supplies to developing countries. That puts President Joe Biden, who has promised to restore American leadership on the global stage and demonstrate to sceptical nations that the United States is a trustworthy collaborator after years of retrenchment under the Trump administration, to the test.
Biden, who assumed office in January at the height of the virus’s outbreak in the United States, has been careful in his response to international aid requests.
The majority of his administration’s vaccine programmes have been directed at the United States. He upheld a Trump administration agreement enabling drugmakers who received US assistance in developing or increasing vaccine production to sell their first doses to the US government.
Biden’s conservative attitude to vaccine sourcing and distribution, according to White House aides, was justified after processing problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the resulting safety “pause” to address a number of suspected blood clots.
Furthermore, authorities believe they need to keep vaccine stocks in the United States in order to vaccinate teens and younger children until safety trials for those age ranges are done and if booster vaccines are needed later.
The White House is well aware that the rest of the world is keeping an eye on them. Last month, the United States distributed 4 million vaccine doses to Canada and Mexico, and Biden announced this week that those countries would be the recipients of additional supplies. He also mentioned that countries in Central America may receive US vaccine assistance, but no concrete plans have been announced.
Due to a lack of vaccination aid from the United States, China and Russia have seized an opportunity. They’ve promised other countries millions of doses of locally manufactured vaccines. China’s foreign minister has stated that his country is opposed to “vaccine nationalism” and that the shots should become a global public good.
The United States has also been accused of not only hoarding its own stockpiles of vaccines, but also of preventing other nations from getting vaccines.
There are also fears that the US will tie vaccine sharing to other diplomatic initiatives. Last month, the United States loaned Mexico 2.7 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccines, on the same day that Mexico declared it would ban crossings at its southern border, a move that may help reduce the number of migrants seeking entrance into the United States.
The Biden administration’s decision on who to share its surplus vaccine with will be closely monitored, notably in Central America, which is home to many nations where migrant families and unaccompanied children are attempting to enter the United States.