The United States on Thursday shipped nearly 5.2 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to Egypt and Nigeria, a White House official told AFP.
The shipments were the latest in a global campaign of donations from the United States. More than 400 million shots have already been dispatched from a target of 1.1 billion.
The official, who asked not to be named, said that 2,999,880 Pfizer doses were heading to Nigeria and 2,158,650 doses to Egypt. The shipments, which left Thursday and were due to arrive by Monday, went through Covax, the global distribution initiative co-led with public-private partnership Gavi.
The United States and other countries producing vaccines against the pandemic have been criticized for not doing enough to blunt the virus’ global spread, while trying to get their own populations fully vaccinated and boosted.
However, the official said President Joe Biden’s “administration understands that putting an end to this pandemic requires eliminating it around the world.”
Washington is “leading the world in a global vaccine strategy because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing morally, the right thing from a global public health perspective, and right for our collective security and well-being.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, just under 29 percent of Egypt’s population is fully vaccinated. The coronavirus has killed an estimated 23,519 people there.
In Nigeria, no more than 2.7 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to JHU. Only 3,141 deaths have been reported.
In December, Nigerian authorities destroyed more than a million donated doses of the AstaZeneca vaccine after they expired. The government said the doses had been delivered shortly before the end of their shelf life, which is relatively short for AstraZeneca.
The White House official said that for the Pfizer donations, “scientific teams and legal and regulatory authorities from both countries have worked together to ensure the prompt delivery of safe and effective vaccine lots to Egypt and Nigeria.”