US emerges as top vaccine donator, Americas region likely to benefit

Latin America will receive millions of US-manufactured COVID-19 shots in the coming weeks as the country emerges as a top donator of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Latin America: Latin America will receive millions of US-manufactured COVID-19 shots in the coming weeks as the country emerges as a top donator of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Considering prioritizing countries within its own hemisphere for the 80 million indigenous vaccine doses they have promised to send abroad.

Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc. (PFE.N) has started exporting millions of its US shots, mainly to countries in Central and South America, a second person familiar with the matter said.

Many Latin American countries have a severe need for COVID-19 vaccines as they fight outbreaks. Brazil was one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, reporting more than 15 million cases and 400,000 deaths this week.

The second person says Pfizer, which developed its vaccine with German partner BioNTech SE, produces about 10 million shots in the United States each week for export.

The drugmaker is transporting shipments from its Michigan plant to neighboring Canada and Mexico, as well as nearly ten other Latin American countries.

Recent recipients of Pfizer’s vaccine doses manufactured in the US include Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay, the person added.

The White House is still considering directing the shots it promised to send abroad, and President Joe Biden has not yet made a decision. But giving preference to countries that share a hemisphere with the United States is one argument being considered because it would be in the interest of the American people to do so, the first person said.

The criteria for sharing the vaccine would be epidemiological and include geographical flexibility so that adjustments could be made as the pandemic shifted, another person familiar with the matter said.

Vaccine Diplomacy

The United States is competing with China and Russia to deepen their ties around the world and promote its geopolitical influence through so-called ‘vaccination diplomacy’.

Republican Senator and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday called on the United States to speed up global vaccination to better compete with competitors.

Gayle Smith, the US world coordinator on COVID-19, said on Wednesday that the United States would donate a significant number of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX program to distribute doses to poorer countries led by the World Health Organization.

Pfizer is targeting Latin America because of the region’s proximity to its manufacturing facilities and because of U.S. drugmakers’ goal of getting more shots to low- and middle-income countries, the second person said.

The United States is becoming a leading supplier of COVID-19 shots to the world as the success of its own vaccination campaign has led to a reduction in demand at home.

According to federal data, more than 60% of American adults received at least one COVID-19 shot. Meanwhile, countries such as India and Brazil are struggling to get the doses they need to bring serious outbreaks under control.

Brazil has so far distributed just enough shots to get about 13% of its population vaccinated, although it picks up an average of nearly 65,000 new cases a day, according to Reuters data.

Biden said on Monday that by the end of June, the White House would hand out 20 million shots previously earmarked for U.S. residents. This will include vaccinations manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N).

The White House also plans to give other countries about 60 million doses of AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine in the US, which has not yet been allowed to be used in the United States.

Pfizer began exporting doses from its Kalamazoo, Michigan plant last month, with the first shipment to Mexico. Reuters reports that an agreement with the White House last year barred him from carrying out doses until after March 31.

Pfizer continues talks with India, where the virus is raging out of control, as the shot has not yet been approved by India. The timeline for any potential deal is not clear, the second person said.