Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.
The United States will send at least 20 million doses of U.S.-approved COVID-19 vaccines abroad by the end of June, President Joe Biden announced Monday.
"Over the past 118 days, our vaccination program has led the world, and today, we're taking an additional step to help the world," he said at a news conference. "We know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic that's raging globally is under control."
His administration will send 20 million doses of the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, in addition to the 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine already set for shipment to other countries.
"No ocean's wide enough, no wall's high enough to keep us safe," Biden said. "Rampant disease and death in other countries can destabilize those countries and pose a risk to us as well."
He said this move will help prevent new variants from springing up around the world and making their way across U.S. borders.
"We need to help fight the disease around the world to help keep us safe here at home and do the right thing in helping other people," Biden said. "It's the right thing to do. It's the smart thing to do. It's the strong thing to do."
The AstraZeneca doses are still awaiting FDA authorization before they can be shipped.
"This is the most doses donated by any country in the world by 5 times," Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said during a news briefing Monday. "This will put 80 million doses out into the world by the end of June."
The announcement comes just a week after the FDA approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15. The anticipation of federal approval spurred an ethical debate among medical professionals: Should those doses set for American teens go abroad instead?
According to Biden, it is not an either/or situation.
The "United States has secured enough supply for all eligible Americans, all Americans 12 years and older," he said.
According to Biden, COVID cases are down in all 50 states. The CDC revised its guidelines last week, saying that vaccinated residents no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors in most settings. The ones who are at risk now are those who are unvaccinated, he said.
"Given that the vaccine is convenient and free, it would be a tragedy, a needless one, to see cases among the unvaccinated go up," he said.
Biden also announced a tax cut for American families: Starting July 15, people with children 6 and younger will receive payments of $300 per month, and those with children over 6 can receive up to $250 per month.
"This tax cut sends a clear and powerful message to American families with children: Help is on the way," he said.
As of now, 60% of Americans have received at least one vaccine shot. COVID-related deaths are down by more than 80%, and the administration aims to have 70% of the U.S. at least partially vaccinated by July 4.
"Every day, the light at the end of that tunnel grows brighter," Biden said. "Progress is undeniable, but we're not done yet."
White House news briefing, May 17, 2021,
President Joe Biden, news conference, May 17, 2021.
WebMD Health News © 2021
Cite this: Biden: US to Send US-Approved Vaccines Abroad - Medscape - May 17, 2021.