WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that his administration has shipped more than 110 million Covid vaccine doses abroad, more than the donations of all other countries combined.
"We're always going to have enough doses for every American who wants one," Biden said. "Our work in donating vaccines to the world is about America following through on its promises and delivering what we say we'll deliver."
The U.S. and other wealthy countries were criticized earlier this year for racing ahead in their rollouts as poorer countries struggled to obtain vaccines. Experts have warned that global vaccination inequality could allow for the virus to continue to mutate and prolong the pandemic for everyone.
"The virus knows no boundaries," Biden said. "In fact, just like the original virus that caused Covid-19, the delta variant came from abroad."
As Biden touted his global vaccination efforts, he continued to plead with Americans to get vaccinated especially as the delta variant grips regions of the country with low vaccination rates.
Biden also urged governors in states with high case rates and low vaccination rates — such ad Texas and Florida — to not get in the way of schools or private businesses that chose to implement mask and vaccine requirements. A number of states have already banned vaccine mandates.
"Please help. If you're not going to help then at least get out of the way," he said. "Use your power to save lives."
Biden said that in the past two weeks there has been a 55 percent increase in the daily average number of people getting their first shot. In the last seven days alone, Biden said that nearly 3 million people got their first shot — the highest seven-day total in a month.
The president also said that over the past two weeks the eight states with the highest case rates have doubled the number of people newly vaccinated each day.
"The message is getting through, apparently," he said. "These are encouraging signs."
The U.S. has donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of its vaccines to more than 60 countries, "a major milestone that cements the United States as the global leader in COVID-19 vaccine donations," the White House said.
The president this year pledged to send 80 million doses of U.S.-approved shots to other countries, including 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. At the end of this month, the administration will begin shipping a half billion Pfizer doses to 100 low-income countries, the White House said.
Most of the U.S.' vaccine donations are being distributed through COVAX, a humanitarian program run in part by the World Health Organization, which aims to distribute vaccines fairly.
COVAX's goal is to make 2 billion doses available to countries in need by the end of the year, although the program has struggled to protect poorer countries from the rapidly spreading delta variant. So far, about 177 million vaccine doses have been shipped to over 138 participants.
As of this week, about 181 million people in the U.S. ages 18 or older have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The milestone was reached as Covid cases are rising across the country, fueled by the more transmissible delta variant.