Biden says US doesn’t have enough vaccines to give out

Posted on : 2021-04-23 16:31 KST Modified on : 2021-04-23 16:31 KST
The US, for now, is focused on vaccination its own population
US President Joe Biden delivers a speech Wednesday at the White House in Washington. (AP/Yonhap News)
US President Joe Biden delivers a speech Wednesday at the White House in Washington. (AP/Yonhap News)

US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that while the US hopes to be able to supply some of its COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, it does not have the reserves to do so at this time.

After delivering remarks related to the vaccines at the White House that day, Biden was asked what he thought should be done about the rising numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases overseas.

In his response, Biden mentioned that he had spoken by telephone just before with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Referring to the US’ decision last month to share 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine with Canada, he said, “We helped a little bit there; we’re going to try to help some more.”

“But there’s other countries as well that I’m confident we can help, including in Central America,” he continued.

“It’s in process,” he added.

Biden went on to say, “We don’t have enough to be confident to [. . .] send [the vaccine] abroad now.”

“But I expect we’re going to be able to do that,” he said.

As of Wednesday, which marked Biden’s 92nd day in office, a total of 200 million people in the US had been given COVID-19 vaccines, he explained.

Originally, he stated the goal of administering the vaccine to 100 million people within 100 days in office — in other words, by Thursday. This was later raised to 200 million people, a second goal which has now been achieved.

Currently, around half the US population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.

But Biden stressed that the US would continue to focus for now on increasing vaccinations within the US. With US authorities and vaccine producers such as Pfizer and Moderna mentioning the need for a third round of “booster shots” starting in the fall, smooth supplies of US vaccines overseas appear unlikely with a substantial increase in production capabilities.

The US State Department also reiterated its stance of prioritizing vaccinations in the US. In a press briefing Wednesday, spokesperson Ned Price was asked by a reporter about the idea of “vaccine swap,” which South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong was currently under discussion with the US government.

“I’m not going to get into any private diplomatic communications with the Republic of Korea, or any other country for that matter,” Price said.

“[F]irst and foremost we are focused at this stage on the vaccination effort here at home,” he continued.

“Of course, we have a special obligation to the American people,” he said.

“[A]fter all, the United States has been hardest hit of any country in the world — more than 550,000 deaths, tens of millions of infections,” he noted.

“[W]e certainly have an interest in seeing the virus contained around the world, but the rest of the world has an interest in seeing the virus contained here in the United States,” he said.

By Hwang Joon-bum, Washington correspondent

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