US vows to send 25 million jabs abroad

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The White House has laid out a plan for the United States to share 25 million surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses with the world and said it would lift some restrictions to allow other countries to more easily buy US-made supplies for vaccine production.

President Joe Biden says the United States will share the vaccines without expectation of political favours in return. He has pledged to share about 80 million COVID-19 vaccines internationally this month.

The United States will donate nearly 19 million doses through the COVAX international vaccine-sharing program, Biden said in a statement.

Through COVAX, about six million doses will go to Latin America and the Caribbean, about seven million doses to South and Southeast Asia and roughly five million to Africa.

The remaining doses, amounting to just more than six million, would go directly from the United States to countries including Canada, Mexico, India and South Korea.

"We are sharing these doses not to secure favours or extract concessions," Biden said on Thursday.

"We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values."

Although the United States is working through the COVAX facility co-run by the World Health Organisation, the White House retains final say in which countries receive US doses and how many, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

The White House will base donation decisions on "factors included achieving global coverage, responding to crises ... and helping as many countries as possible", Sullivan said, adding the United States intended to prioritise its neighbours, including Canada, Mexico and countries in Central and South America.

The 25 million doses would be delivered quickly, with some going out as soon as Thursday, the White House said.

Biden has come under pressure from the world community to share the US surplus of COVID-19 vaccines.

For months, the White House remained focused on getting Americans vaccinated as the coronavirus killed more than half a million people in the United States.

But the president has promised the United States would become a supplier to other countries and pledged to send abroad at least 20 million doses of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE , Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, on top of about 60 million AstraZeneca doses he had already planned to give to other countries.

The 25 million doses Biden announced on Thursday would not include supply from AstraZeneca, the White House said.

International organisations including the United Nations and the World Bank welcomed the announcement.

"It's a good start, and I am hoping that more doses will be made available," World Bank president David Malpass told Reuters.