MSF: US must commit to sharing more surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses

An MSF nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine

Lebanon 2021 © Tariq Keblaoui/MSF

NEW YORK, MAY 17, 2021—The Biden-Harris Administration announced today that it will share an additional 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with other countries by the end of June through COVAX, the global initiative for delivering vaccines equitably based on public health needs. While this will provide much-needed vaccine protection to millions of people, the number of doses falls woefully short given the US’ current surplus of vaccines, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today.

The US government—which has secured enough doses to protect its entire population of 330 million and still have more than half a billion surplus vaccines left over—must instead immediately share all of its surplus doses. It must also commit to ensuring the transfer of critical vaccine technology and production information so more manufacturers across the globe can help boost the global supply in the near future.

—Dr. Carrie Teicher, director of programs at MSF-USA, said of the announcement:

"The US’ commitment to share surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses through COVAX is a good start, though the number of doses they’ve committed is a drop in the bucket compared to the immense global need.

“Allowing unused vaccines to sit on shelves while people all over the world continue to live in constant fear of being infected isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerous. The longer COVID-19 ravages various countries across the globe, the greater the threat that can undo the progress the US has made within its own borders.

“This pandemic won’t be over for anyone until it’s over for everyone, everywhere.

“In addition to immediately sharing more vaccines, the Biden-Harris Administration must demand that pharmaceutical corporations that received public funding to develop COVID-19 vaccines transfer the information and technology needed for other manufacturers to help scale up the production of mRNA vaccines globally. This would allow millions more people across the world to be vaccinated in the coming months.

“The US government must also remain committed to waiving intellectual property on COVID-19 vaccines, while expanding its support to cover all COVID-19 products like treatments and tests.

“The Biden-Harris Administration said it themselves: extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. While today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, the US must continue to use its position as a global health leader to make worldwide equitable access a reality.”