September 22, 2021
Remarks by President Biden at Virtual Global COVID-19 Summit
South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
11:16 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everyone. And thank you for joining us today.
As I said yesterday at the United Nations, nothing is more urgent than all of us working together to defeat COVID-19. And that — that world is going to be much better prepared for future pandemics. We have to do both.
This summit is about supercharging our efforts in three key areas: vaccinating the world by dramatically ramping up vaccine production, donations, delivery, and administrating the vaccine, which is a logistical — it’s a logistical challenge; addressing the oxygen crisis in many hospitals around the world, making other treatments more accessible, and increasing the availability of public health tools like masks and tests; and building back better so that our global health security infrastructure is more resilient than it is today.
We’ve all suffered. The United States has lost more than 670,000 of our fellow Americans. Worldwide, the death toll is above 4.5 million people — 4.5 million people. And this is a global tragedy.
And we — and we’re not going to solve this crisis with half-measures or middle-of-the-road ambitions. We need to go big. And we need to do our part: governments, the private sector, civil society leaders, philanthropists. This is an all-hands-on-deck crisis.
And the good news is, we know how to beat this pandemic: vaccines, public health measures, and collective action.
During the first eight months of my presidency, we have worked aggressively to get Americans and the world vaccinated. As President of the United States, my first responsibility is to protect the American people. And I am proud that we have gone from 2 million Americans being fully vaccinated when I took office in January 20th to 182 million and counting, today, in America.
But we also know that to beat the pandemic here, we need to beat it everywhere. And I made and I’m keeping the promise that America will become the arsenal of vaccines as we were the arsenal of democracy during World War Two.
We have already shipped nearly 160 million doses to 100 countries, more than every other country has donated combined. America’s donations of a half a billion Pfizer vaccines through COVAX that I’ve announced before the G7 Summit in June have already begun to ship.
Today, I’m announcing another historic commitment. The United States is buying another half billion doses of Pfizer to donate to low- and middle-income countries around the world.
This is another half a billion doses that will all be shipped by this time next year. And it brings our total commitment to — of donati- — of donated vaccines to over 1.1 billion vaccines to be donated.
Put another way, for every one shot we’ve administered to date in America, we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world.
I want to thank Pfizer and its CEO and chairman, Albert. Albert has been a good friend and has been helpful. They’ve been and continue to be partners and a leader in this fight.
And the United States is leading the world on vaccination donations. We need — as we’re doing that, we need other high-income countries to deliver on their own ambitious vaccine donations and pledges.
That’s why, today, we’re launching the EU-U.S. vaccine partnership to work more closely together and with our partners on expanding global vaccinations.
And as we do so, we should unite around the world on a few principles: that we commit to donating, not selling — donating, not selling, doses to low- and lower-income countries, and that the donations come with no political strings attached; and that we support COVAX as the main distributor for sharing WHO-approved vaccines; and that we fight vaccine disinformation and exercise transparency to build vital public trust in these lifesaving tools.
It’s also important that we are working toward common goals and targets so that we can measure our progress and hold ourselves and each other accountable.
Secretary of State Blinken will be convening foreign ministers later this year to check on our collective progress. And I propose that we come together for a second high-level virtual summit in the first quarter of 2022 to help gauge our progress and keep our efforts fully aligned.
Another goal is dramatically boosting global and regional vaccine manufacturing capacity, enhancing transparency so that vaccine production and distribution is predictable and coordinated.
In fact, an important part of the reason the United States is able to make these big, historic donations is because we’ve worked with U.S. vaccine manufacturers to accelerate the manufacturing rate and production. And now we’re working quickly to scale up vaccine manufacturing in other countries around the world so they can manufacture as well.
We’re working with partner nations, pharmaceutical companies, and other manufacturers to increase their own capacity and capability to produce and manufacture safe and highly effective vaccines in their own countries. For example, our Quad partnership with India, Japan, and Australia is on track to help produce at least 1 billion vaccine doses in India to boost the global supply by the end of 2022.
And we’re providing financing and helping strengthen manufacturing in South Africa and produce more than 500 million doses of J&J in Africa, for Africa next year.
And next, we also know from experience that getting those vaccines into people’s arms may be the hardest logistical challenge we’ve faced. That’s why we need to significantly step up our investment in helping countries get shots in arms.
Today, the United States is also announcing that we’re providing an additional $370 million to support administering these shots and delivery globally. And we will be providing more than $380 million to assist in the Global Vaccine Alliance — GAVI — to further facilitate vaccine distribution in regions in the greatest — with the greatest need.
And while vaccinating the world is the ultimate solution to COVID-19, we know that we have to act to save lives now. That’s why the United States are providing nearly $1.4 billion to reduce COVID-19 deaths and mitigate transmission through bulk oxygen support, expanded testing, and strengthening healthcare systems and more.
And we’re going to help all of us build back better by supporting the establishment of a financial mechanism for global health security — to simply state — to prepare for the next pandemic, because there will be a next time. We all know that. Vice President Harris will be speaking more on this issue later today.
And finally, I want to acknowledge the leaders from the private sector, philanthropy, and civil society who are here today.
Governments can do a lot, but we cannot do everything on our own. We’ve asked our nongovernmental partners to take up the call for new actions that will solve the core challenges of making vaccines available to everyone, everywhere; solving the oxygen availability crisis; financing health security; and more. And I’m grateful — I’m grateful for their leadership.
And let me close by — with what I made clear yesterday at the U.N.: We can do this. This is within our capacity. We know what needs to be done. We just have to make the choice to do it.
You know, the leaders on the screen that I see here today, I know they’ve made that choice. And I think they know we can do this.
And I promise you, the United States will continue to lead. We’ll continue to drive historic commitments in vaccine donations — 1.1 billion and counting — so we can defeat COVID-19 together.
And we’ll continue to invest in creating a future of true global health security for all people. That is a big, big goal I ha- — we have — we should have. And we’re going to lead with the power of our example. And we’re not going to stop.
But the only way to get this done is for everyone, everywhere — is for all of us to step up, which I’m confident you will.
And now I’d like to turn this over to Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield of the United Nations. And I want to thank everybody on the screen I can see here, without going to each one of you.
11:25 A.M. EDT