U.S. will donate $4 billion to COVAX

Kemi Osukoya

February 19, 2021

President Joe Biden on Friday will address American top allies and other world leaders during a pair of virtual G-7 leaders meeting and Munich Security Conference, his first major foreign events on the global stage and first major global sighting as American leader.

President Biden, who took presidency nearly a month ago, is expected to reassure American allies and other major world leaders of U.S.’ commitment to multilateralism, including on global trade policy, cybersecurity, counterterrorism as well as give a peek into his administration’s foreign policy agenda on America’s top two competitors and nemeses: China and Russia.

During the G-7 virtual meeting, which will be hosted by United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Biden is expected to urge the seven industrialized nations to update global trade policy and take decisive actions on China. 

President Biden’s participation at these events will underscore the administration’s deliberate paradigm shift from the Trump administration’s often acrimonious four years ‘America First’ foreign policy agenda and goals.

The two events come as leaders worldwide face emerging and ongoing major threats and uncertainty, including the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, China’s burgeoning global influence and instabilities in the Mideast as well as the immediate global economy crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts G7 virtual meeting with leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, U.S. and the European Union Commission on February 19.

The U.S. is expected to take leadership role in addressing most of these issues and unlike his predecessor, President Biden is well versed in foreign diplomacy and other major global issues, having served most recently as Vice President to President Barack Obama and previously as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and before that as a member of the committee for many years while serving as Senator for Delaware.  

The White House on Thursday said Biden will use Friday’s G-7 virtual platform to call for investment in global health security and galvanize G-7 partners to support the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, the global efforts to make Covid-19 vaccines accessible to populations in developing countries.

On Wednesday, the State Department announced that the U.S. plans to provide the WHO with a $200 million funding that President Trump canceled last July.

During the G-7 meeting, President Biden will also call for establishment of a health financing mechanism for low-and-middle income economies to ensure the global health systems can adequately protect and prevent the world’s most vulnerable as well as the global health security from the next health catastrophe.

To kick off the new health financing mechanism, President Biden will announce $4 billion donation to the global Covid vaccines efforts, with an initial $2 billion to be given to Gavi to supports its efforts to provide access to safe and effective vaccines for 92 low- and middle-income economies. GAVI is the Vaccine Alliance for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, the innovative financing instrument of the COVAX Facility.

The remaining $2 billion, which will go toward further global contributions to COVAX , will be released in installments from now until 2022. The initial $500 million from that installment will be deployed after existing donor pledges are fulfilled and initial doses are delivered to AMC countries, the White House said. The Biden administration anticipates the “additional funding” will help expand COVAX’s global reach.

On the global economy, President Biden will urge his G7 counterparts to support an all inclusive global economy recovery that benefits “all workers, including women and members of historically disadvantaged groups in all parts of our country.”

“As we build back better, we must ensure that the recovery is inclusive and benefits all workers, including women and members of historically disadvantaged groups in all parts of our country,” said the White House in a statement. 

Prior to today’s two events, President Biden has spoken by phone with all of his G-7 counterparts and other world leaders, most recently the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier this month, as part of his efforts of undoing the damages done by the previous administration to U.S. leadership in the world and to international diplomacy, President Biden conveyed, via a recorded video message to Africa’s Heads of States attending the 34th African Union Summit, America’s strong commitment to African nations.