US wants to increase vaccine production in the face of criticism about low access from poor countries


The United States is about to announce a billion-dollar investment package to boost the production of vaccines against Covid-19. The aim of the measure is to increase domestic production and also the global supply of doses, responding to criticism directed at the government of Joe Biden due to the inequality of access to immunizations in poor countries.

The information was anticipated by The New York Times, which interviewed two Biden advisers. The goal would be to produce at least one billion doses per year from the second half of 2022 through partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry.

The amount to be invested was not informed, but, according to David Kessler, supervisor of vaccine distribution in the Democrat administration, the amount, estimated at “several billions”, would already be reserved in the US$ 1.9 trillion spending package ( R$10.4 trillion at the current price) enacted by Biden in March to combat the pandemic and the effects of the crisis on the American economy.

Also according to Kessler, a former head of the FDA (drug regulatory agency), the investment is being organized to guarantee the American response capacity to new variants of the coronavirus and also to prepare for a possible rebound of the pandemic or even the emergence of another pandemic.

“The goal, in the case of a future pandemic, is to be able to vaccinate within six to nine months of identifying the pandemic pathogen and to have enough vaccines for all Americans,” he detailed to the New York Times. Pharmaceutical companies capable of producing vaccines using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, such as those from Pfizer and Moderna, would be called to participate.

The announcement of the new investment, scheduled for this Wednesday (17), is seen as a diplomatic signal from the government. With enough doses for the population, the country is one of those that has already applied the third dose of the immunizing agent, but it finds itself under pressure to assume the leadership in the distribution of vaccines, especially to African nations.

While in North America 63% of the population received at least one dose of the vaccine –54% have a complete vaccination schedule–, the percentage in Africa alarms health experts. On the continent, only 6.7% of the population received the two doses, according to data compiled by Our World in Data, an Oxford University platform.

It is not clear whether Biden’s plan will satisfy government critics, since, according to advance information to the American press, the investment will be destined to the domestic manufacture of vaccines. How and when to dispose of production are unclear information. Kessler said the effort was specifically aimed at developing domestic US capability, but that “this capability is important for global supply.”

Pressure on the Democrat’s government comes not only from the international forum, but also from domestic groups. In September, a group of activists – many of them veterans of the movement that in the 1980s and 1990s mobilized for AIDS drugs to be distributed around the world – staged a series of demonstrations in the country.

In one of the protests, the group deposited a mountain of fake bones outside the home of Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, and another in the home of Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel. The image symbolized, according to the protesters, the thousands of people who died around the world, especially in poor nations, because they did not have the chance to be vaccinated against Covid.

The US vaccinated with at least one dose 67.7% of the country’s population, and 57.7% received both doses. According to data updated daily by the State Department, the White House has already donated 245 million doses of the immunizing agent to other countries.


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