An estimate by the ONE Campaign, which fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, showed that the leading seven developed nations would together be sitting on a surplus of more than 600 million vaccine doses by the end of 2021. That is enough to give every adult in Africa one shot.
Most doses that have been committed, however, will not be delivered to the needier nations, nor injected into arms, until next year. Given the sluggish distribution, said Dr. Kate O’Brien, the World Health Organization’s top vaccines expert, “we can see clearly from the data that’s coming out that we are very far” from vaccinating 70 percent of the world’s population by the middle of next year, as initially projected.
The president is also under intense pressure from global health advocates who say donating doses is not enough and want him to scale up manufacturing capacity overseas.
On Monday, activists staged a demonstration near the U.N. headquarters in New York calling on Mr. Biden to “end vaccine apartheid.” A coalition of nearly 60 human rights and other advocacy groups sent Mr. Biden a letter urging him to back a $25 billion investment that would produce eight billion doses within a year — and to ask Congress to include a specific line item for it in the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” budget legislation that lawmakers are now considering.
“We cannot ‘donate’ our way to safety,” they wrote.
That growing gap between the vaccine haves and the vaccine have-nots has led to a rift between wealthy countries and most of the rest of the world, one that has only deepened with the rampant spread of the Delta variant and potentially thousands of others that are on the rise. Several of the most virulent variants were first identified in lower-income countries, including South Africa and India — both of which have fully vaccinated only 13 percent of their populations.
More than 100 low-income countries are banking on Mr. Biden to lean on the European Union and Group of 7 states at the summit on Wednesday to agree to waive intellectual property rights to vaccine production so that they can be shared with manufacturers in other, developing nations. Some of the leading coronavirus vaccines are produced in Europe — including Pfizer-BioNTech in Germany and AstraZeneca in England — and officials there have been accused of putting potential profits ahead of beating back the pandemic.
The European Union again objected to a plan to waive the vaccine property rights at a closed-door World Trade Organization meeting last week in Geneva, according to a senior European diplomat familiar with the discussion.