Biden Announces 500 Million-Dose Vaccine Donation for Poorer Countries
President Biden formally announced the plan to donate the shots to 100 low- and middle-income countries over the next year. Follow updates on his trip to Europe.,
President Biden, under pressure to address the global coronavirus vaccine shortage, announced on Thursday that the United States will buy 500 million doses of vaccine and donate them for use by about 100 low- and middle-income countries over the next year.
“This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation, to save as many lives as we can,” Mr. Biden said in a speech in England, ahead of the meeting of the Group of 7 wealthy democracies. “When we see people hurting and suffering anywhere around the world, we seek to help any way we can.”
In recent months, wealthy nations with robust vaccination campaigns have quickly moved toward inoculating large swaths of their population, but much of the world, particularly Africa, lags far behind, raising fears of more deadly waves that could overwhelm fragile health care systems and spawn new virus variants.
Now, as the leaders of the G7 prepare to meet in England starting on Friday, they are pledging to help close that gap. Mr. Biden said the G7 would announce a broader global strategy for containing the pandemic.
“America knows firsthand the tragedies of this pandemic,” he added, having suffered more than 600,000 deaths — “more deaths from Covid-19 in the United States than from World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War and 9/11, combined.”
The donation of 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses is by far the largest yet by a single country, but it would fully inoculate only about 3 percent of the world’s population. The United States will pay $1.5 billion for the Pfizer-BioNTech shots, about $3 apiece, which Pfizer described as a “not for profit” price — much less than the $20 it has paid for domestic use.
“The United States is providing these half billion doses with no strings attached,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic. That’s it. Period.”
The first 200 million doses will be distributed by the end of this year, followed by 300 million by next June, Mr. Biden and Pfizer said. The doses will be distributed through Covax, the international vaccine-sharing initiative, which has lagged behind the hoped-for pace of distributing doses.
In a statement released on Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is playing host to the summit as Britain takes up the G7 presidency this year, said it was crucial to use the moment for unified action against the pandemic.
“The world needs this meeting,” he said. “We must be honest: International order and solidarity were badly shaken by Covid. Nations were reduced to beggar-my-neighbor tactics in the desperate search for P.P.E., for drugs — and, finally, for vaccines,” he added, referring to personal protective equipment.
He said now was the time to “put those days behind us.”
“This is the moment for the world’s greatest and most technologically advanced democracies to shoulder their responsibilities and to vaccinate the world, because no one can be properly protected until everyone has been protected,” he added.”
“We have to end Covid-19, not just at home, which we’re doing, but everywhere,” Mr. Biden told United States troops at R.A.F. Mildenhall in Suffolk, England, on Wednesday evening. “There’s no wall high enough to keep us safe from this pandemic or the next biological threat we face, and there will be others. It requires coordinated multilateral action.”
With the world confronting the immediate crisis of a pandemic and the long-term challenge of climate change, President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain on Thursday turned for inspiration to another period of peril and deep uncertainty.
After meeting face to face for the first time since Mr. Biden assumed the presidency, they announced a renewal of the Atlantic Charter — the declaration of cooperation that Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt laid out during World War II.
While the two current stewards of the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States have disagreed on critical issues, on Thursday they stressed the enduring strength of the alliance.
When the original Atlantic Charter was signed on Aug. 14, 1941, the Nazis had conquered much of Europe, Britain stood largely alone and the United States had yet to join the war.
But the symbolic import of the Atlantic Charter declaration had been backed up by the passage of the Lend-Lease Act only a short time earlier, allowing the United States to provide critical military equipment to allies.
Before Mr. Biden and Mr. Johnson signed the new document, a senior United States official called it a “profound statement of purpose” that echoes the 80-year-old charter by underscoring the original declaration: that “the democratic model is the right and the just and the best” one for confronting the world’s challenges.
The official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity before the meeting between the two leaders, said the charter did not envision a new Cold War between great powers, but rather a world whose problems — including climate change, pandemics, technological warfare and economic competition — are complex and often nuanced.
However, at the core of the president’s message during the trip is a central animating theme: The United States and its allies are engaged in an existential struggle between democracy and autocracy.
“I believe we’re in an inflection point in world history,” Mr. Biden said on Wednesday evening in a speech to troops stationed at R.A.F. Mildenhall at the start of his European visit. “A moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies not just endure, but they will excel as we rise to seize enormous opportunities in the new age.”
In what he hopes will be a powerful demonstration that democracies — and not China or Russia — are capable of responding to the world’s crises, Mr. Biden will formally announce that the United States will donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine to 100 poorer nations, a program that officials said would cost $1.5 billion.
By playing a leading role in the effort to vaccinate the world and providing resources to confront the gravest public health challenges, officials said the United States was reclaiming a role it has sought to play since the end of World War II.
Mr. Johnson, who is eager to use the summit as a showcase for a post-Brexit identity branded “Global Britain,” has also outlined ambitious plans to help end the pandemic. In the run up to the summit, Mr. Johnson called on leaders to commit to vaccinating every person in the world against the coronavirus by the end of 2022.
Yet while Mr. Johnson and Mr. Biden may find common ground on key issues including the pandemic, fundamental divisions remain.
Mr. Biden opposed Britain’s drive to leave the European Union, a push that Mr. Johnson helped lead. The American president is also concerned about Northern Ireland, since the Brexit deal has threatened to reignite sectarian tensions in the territory.
It was only two years ago, in the heat of the United States presidential election campaign, that President Biden called Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain a “physical and emotional clone” of President Donald J. Trump.
He did not mean it as a compliment.
But when the two leaders, joined by their wives, Jill and Carrie, met in person on Thursday for the first time since Mr. Biden was elected president, they sought to project an image of bonhomie as they strolled in the sunshine along the southwestern English coast in Cornwall.
“I’m thrilled to meet your wife,” Mr. Biden said to Mr. Johnson, adding to the news media: “I told the prime minister we have something in common: We both married above our station.”
Mr. Johnson concurred.
“I’m not going to disagree with the president on that or anything else,” Mr. Johnson said.
After the exchange of pleasantries on Thursday, Mr. Johnson looked over copies of the original Atlantic Charter documents and photos from the formation of that accord, which their World War II counterparts, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, signed in 1941.
Mr. Johnson noted that when that declaration was formally announced, Mr. Churchill had showed up in his Naval uniform.
The current British leader, known as a voluble raconteur, pointed to a photo of Averell Harriman, a famed United States diplomat who later became governor of New York, and said he had spoken to Mr. Harriman shortly before the envoy’s death about the signing of the Atlantic Charter.
The pair viewed a photo of one of President Roosevelt’s sons, who accompanied him to the 1941 meeting at sea where the charter was signed.
One of the toughest issues President Biden is expected to take up this week with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain is the status of Northern Ireland, where Brexit-fueled tensions threaten the return of lethal sectarian violence.
The 1998 Good Friday Agreement ended the Troubles, the 30-year guerrilla war between Catholic nationalists seeking unification with the Republic of Ireland and predominantly Protestant unionists, who want to stay in the United Kingdom. The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland virtually disappeared, allowing unfettered movement of people and commerce.
But now, a part of London’s Brexit deal with Brussels is inflaming resentment among unionists. To avoid resurrecting a hard border with Ireland — an unpopular idea on both sides of the boundary — the Northern Ireland Protocol requires checks on goods flowing between the North and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Creating a commercial border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country violates promises made by the British government and imposes an economic and psychological cost. Northern Irish people who want to remain in Britain feel betrayed, and there have been violent protests against the protocol.
“It has hit the community here like a ton of bricks that this is a separation of Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom,” said David Campbell, chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council, which represents paramilitary groups that some say are stirring up unrest.
Mr. Biden has warned Mr. Johnson, who campaigned for Brexit and negotiated the deal with Brussels, not to do anything to undermine the Good Friday Agreement. He is also mulling the appointment of a presidential envoy for Northern Ireland.
“That agreement must be protected, and any steps that imperil or undermine it will not be welcomed by the United States,” Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, told reporters on Air Force One on Wednesday.
Asked whether Mr. Johnson had taken steps to imperil the agreement, Mr. Sullivan said: “President Biden is going to make statements in principle on this front. He’s not issuing threats or ultimatums.”
President Donald J. Trump embraced Mr. Johnson and Brexit, but Mr. Biden has been cooler to both. The new president is also a Roman Catholic and devoted Irish-American, fueling speculation that he will be more favorable to the Irish nationalist cause.
It seems that the back of a first lady is now the hot place for White House messaging.
During President Biden’s first in-person meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, Jill Biden, the first lady, wore a black jacket over her black-and-white polka dot dress as the leaders and spouses met on a scenic overlook in the south of England.
The jacket had a single word on it: “LOVE.”
The delivery method — if not the content of the message itself — was an unmistakable echo of the time that Melania Trump, then first lady, famously wore a jacket during a visit to children separated from their parents at the southwestern United States border that said “I really don’t care, do u?”
That message, written in white letters on a green jacket, instantly became a sensation as people sought to find meaning in the harsh-sounding words.
Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman later said that the message was intended as a slap at journalists, not a comment about the conditions that the migrant children were being kept in after her husband’s policy of separating them from their parents.
But it was clear that Mrs. Trump — like Dr. Biden on Thursday — was well aware that her jacket would be noticed.
Unlike her predecessor, Dr. Biden was quick to provide an immediate explanation and context for her choice of a jacket and the message she was trying to send. In comments to reporters traveling with the president, she said that the jacket was intended to offer a “sense of hope” to a world gripped by Covid.
“I think that we’re bringing love from America,” she said. “This is a global conference, and we are trying to bring unity across the globe. And I think it’s needed right now, that people feel a sense of unity from all the countries and feel a sense of hope after this year of the pandemic.”
She did not, however, say whether her jacket was intended as a rebuke of sorts to Mrs. Trump, or even inspired by the previous incident. Asked about the comparison, her communications director referred to her comments to reporters.
Hugh Hastings/Getty Images
Hugh Hastings/Getty Images
The most pressing, vexing item on President Biden’s agenda while in Europe may be managing the United States’ relationship with a disruptive Russia. He will seek support from allies to that end, but no part of the trip promises to be more fraught than the daylong meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin on June 16.
On the eve of meeting with European leaders rattled by Russia’s aggressive movement of troops along Ukraine’s borders, Mr. Biden said the world was at “an inflection point,” with democratic nations needing to stand together to combat a rising tide of autocracies.
“We have to discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over, as some of our fellow nations believe,” he said.
Turning to Russia specifically, he pledged to “respond in a robust and meaningful way” to what he called “harmful activities” conducted by Mr. Putin.
Russian intelligence agencies have interfered in Western elections and are widely believed to have used chemical weapons against perceived enemies on Western soil and in Russia. Russian hackers have been blamed for cyberattacks that have damaged Western economies and government agencies. Russian forces are supporting international pariahs in bloody conflicts — separatists in Ukraine and Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria.
Mr. Biden called for the meeting with Mr. Putin despite warnings from rights activists that doing so would strengthen and embolden the Russian leader, who recently said that a “new Cold War” was underway.
Mr. Putin has a powerful military and boasts of exotic new weapons systems, but experts on the dynamics between Washington and Moscow say that disruption is his true power.
“Putin doesn’t necessarily want a more stable or predictable relationship,” said Alexander Vershbow, who was United States ambassador to Russia under President George W. Bush. “The best case one can hope for is that the two leaders will argue about a lot of things but continue the dialogue.”
White House officials say that Mr. Biden has no intention of trying to reset the relationship with Russia. Having concurred with the description of Mr. Putin as a “killer” in March, Mr. Biden is cleareyed, they say, about his adversary: He regards him more as a hardened mafia boss than a national leader.
At nearly the same time Mr. Biden was delivering his remarks on Wednesday, a Russian court outlawed the organization of the jailed opposition leader Alexei A. Navalny, potentially exposing him and his supporters to criminal charges.
But Mr. Biden is more focused on Russian actions abroad than its domestic repression. He is determined to put what his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, calls “guardrails” on the relationship. That includes seeking out some measure of cooperation, starting with the future of the countries’ nuclear arsenals.
Mr. Biden’s associates say he will also convey that he has seen Mr. Putin’s bravado before and that it doesn’t faze him.
“Joe Biden is not Donald Trump,” said Thomas E. Donilon, who served as national security adviser to President Barack Obama and whose wife and brother are key aides to Mr. Biden. “You’re not going to have this inexplicable reluctance of a U.S. president to criticize a Russian president who is leading a country that is actively hostile to the United States in so many areas. You won’t have that.”
PLYMOUTH — Traveling overseas with a president is always a unique experience (including, on Wednesday, when a plane full of reporters was grounded by cicadas). But this year Covid has added new logistical wrinkles.
It was always clear that White House correspondents like me would have to be fully vaccinated before joining President Biden’s trip to Britain, Belgium and Switzerland. Who would want to crowd into packed press buses without that protection?
But the Covid rules in Britain — which is wrestling with whether to fully reopen its economy as it deals with a surge of infections driven by the Delta variant — meant that it wasn’t simple. Visitors from the United States to Britain, regardless of their vaccination status, are required to quarantine for up to 10 days upon arrival, with an opportunity to “test out” after five days with proof of a negative result.
That clearly wouldn’t work for covering the three-day Group of 7 meeting of world leaders in a coastal English enclave. So after a series of negotiations between the British government and the White House, a compromise was reached: We would get a waiver to enter the country, but with a strict testing regimen.
I took a P.C.R. test (a technique that looks for bits of the coronavirus’s genetic material and is considered more accurate than rapid antigen tests) two days before boarding the flight.
After landing at the Cornwall airport, we were tested again, this time with a kit that requires a gag-inducing swab in the throat that then gets used to swab the nose as well. I tested negative on both.
During our stay at a hotel in Plymouth, reporters are required to test again each day, by 7 a.m., using a take-home kit provided by the British health service. That involves a quick swab down the throat (more gagging), followed by one in both sides of the nose and then a few drops on what looks similar to a home pregnancy test: One line for negative, two for positive.
On Thursday morning, I took a picture of the result (negative) and sent it off. Reporters will repeat that each day as long as we are in Britain.
Our waiver does not allow us to wander around Plymouth, eat in restaurants or drink in bars. That has limited the collection of White House reporters to the hotel’s catering and delivery from food delivery services like Uber Eats. We wear masks indoors. It feels much like being in the United States before restrictions started lifting a few weeks back.
For me, the restrictions are welcomed. My bout with Covid last October developed after I traveled on Air Force One with President Donald J. Trump as he headed to a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. I developed symptoms on the same day that Mr. Trump did, and spent the next two weeks with a high fever and other typical symptoms. (My sense of smell is just returning now).
Having been infected last fall, and with the double-dose of the Pfizer vaccine, I feel very safe. But to be honest, the last thing I want is to return home on Air Force One next week with a new variant of Covid courtesy of my job. If that security means taking a daily test and ordering what the British call “takeaway” food every day, I’m OK with that.
Cornwall, a county that stretches out over England’s far southwestern corner, is better known for hosting British vacationers on its beautiful beaches and windswept craggy coastline than for being at the center of major global decision-making. But this week it is playing host to some of the world’s most powerful leaders as the site of the Group of 7 summit.
Home to about 3,000 people, the village of Carbis Bay is at the center of the action as the leaders of some of the world’s richest democracies, along with the world’s news media, descend on the normally placid seaside area.
So why was the location chosen?
Cornwall was put forward as a site for the summit to showcase initiatives that the government hopes will bolster Britain’s image as a leading nation in efforts to address climate change.
The county has set a more ambitious timeline than the rest of Britain for slashing carbon dioxide emissions to net zero — a main focus of recent international initiatives. It has pledged to meet the goal by 2030, two decades ahead of the national goal.
There are also a number of industries across the region that cater to the renewable energy sector.
Cornwall was once a global center of tin and copper mining, but the last Cornish tin mine closed in 1998. Now, that mining heritage is being turned toward tech metal mining, with companies working to extract lithium for potential use in electric cars and batteries.
“As the eyes of the world look to Cornwall this week, not only will they see an area of outstanding beauty, they will witness a region that is innovative, exciting and looking firmly toward a bright future,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement announcing new investment in the region.
While Carbis Bay will be the central location for the meetings, neighboring St. Ives — a tourist town known for its art scene — and other towns in the area will also play host to some events.
“There is a great opportunity for Cornwall and the U.K. to capitalize and drive investment in these industries,” Glenn Caplin-Grey, the chief executive of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Economic Partnership, said in a statement.
In the summer of 1941, before the United States joined the war against Nazi Germany, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed to Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain that their two nations issue a declaration of shared principles. They met at sea, with Mr. Churchill’s ship forced to change course en route to dodge U-boats. Over the course of several days, they drafted a document that was issued on Aug. 14, 1941. Less than 400 words long, the declaration helped guide the course of World War II, the subsequent peace and the relationship between the allies for decades to come. Below is the full text.
The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future of the world.
First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other;
Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned;
Third, they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them;
Fourth, they will endeavor, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all states, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity;
Fifth, they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement, and social security;
Sixth, after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want;
Seventh, such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance;
Eighth, they believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
WINSTON S. CHURCHILL
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to welcome the Group of 7 leaders to Britain, he has set headline-grabbing goals for the summit, including worldwide plans to tackle the pandemic and climate change, while trying to fashion a post-Brexit identity for his country as “Global Britain.”
But he has also decided to cut Britain’s spending on foreign aid by a third, or more than $4 billion a year, setting off a political battle in London and accusations of hypocrisy. Critics say the budget cuts make hollow his talk of vaccinating every person in the world against the coronavirus by the end of 2022 and of a vast initiative to reduce carbon emissions in developing countries, modeled on the post-World War II Marshall Plan led by the United States.
The government first announced last fall that it would cut foreign assistance to 0.5 percent of Britain’s economic output, from the legally mandated level of 0.7 percent, because of its emergency spending to cushion the blow from the pandemic.
The cuts are eviscerating aid to groups like the United Nations Population Fund, which says its flagship program on family planning for women and girls will lose 85 percent of its funding, or $253 million, from Britain this year. The program’s executive director, Natalia Kanem, described the cuts as “devastating.”
Critics hope President Biden will press Mr. Johnson to restore Britain’s aid spending, even if the United States record on aid is itself mixed.
As President Biden and his NATO counterparts focus on nuclear-armed Russia at their summit meeting on Monday, they may also face a different sort of challenge: growing support, or at least openness, within their own constituencies for the global treaty that bans nuclear weapons.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the Geneva-based group that was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work to achieve the treaty, said in a report released on Thursday that it had seen increased backing for the accord among voters and lawmakers in NATO’s 30 countries, as reflected in public opinion polls, parliamentary resolutions, political party declarations and statements from past leaders.
The treaty, negotiated at the United Nations in 2017, took effect early this year, three months after the 50th ratification. It has the force of international law even though the treaty is not binding for countries that decline to join.
The accord outlaws the use, testing, development, production, possession and transfer of nuclear weapons and stationing them in a different country. It also outlines procedures for destroying stockpiles and enforcing its provisions.
The negotiations were boycotted by the United States and the world’s eight other nuclear-armed states — Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and Russia — which have all said they will not join the treaty, describing it as misguided and naive. And no NATO member has joined the treaty.
Nonetheless, an American-led effort begun under the Trump administration to dissuade other countries from joining has not reversed the treaty’s increased acceptance.
“The growing tide of political support for the new U.N. treaty in many NATO states, and the mounting public pressure for action, suggests that it is only a matter of time before one or more of these states take steps toward joining,” said Tim Wright, the treaty coordinator of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons who was an author of the report.
Timed a few days before the NATO meeting in Brussels, the report enumerated what it described as important signals of support or sympathy for the treaty among members in the past few years.
In Belgium, the government formed a committee to explore how the treaty could “give new impetus” to disarmament. In France, a parliamentary committee asked the government to “mitigate its criticism” of the treaty. In Italy, Parliament asked the government “to explore the possibility” of signing the treaty. And in Spain, the government made a political pledge to sign the treaty at some point.
Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of Scotland, where some British nuclear weapons are stored, said in January that if Scotland declared independence, her government “would be a keen signatory, and I hope the day we can do that is not far-off.”
There is nothing to prevent a NATO country from signing the treaty. But the bloc’s solidarity in opposing the accord appears to have weakened, emboldening disarmament advocates.
Promoters of the treaty have repeatedly said they do not expect to see nuclear-armed countries join anytime soon. Rather, they have said the treaty’s increased acceptance by other countries will create a shaming effect, similar to how treaties that banned chemical weapons, land mines and cluster munitions have drastically cut their use and stigmatized violators.
Leaders of the European Union on Thursday joined the calls for a full investigation into the origins of Covid-19, with the European Council president declaring “support for all the efforts in order to get transparency and to know the truth.”
“The world has the right to know exactly what happened in order to be able to learn the lessons,” added the president, Charles Michel, who heads the European Council, the body that represents the bloc’s national leaders. He made the comments during a news conference preceding the Group of 7 summit, which starts on Friday and will be attended by President Biden.
The World Health Organization conducted an inquiry this year into the origins of the virus, which first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. The study concluded that “introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway” but was widely seen as incomplete because of China’s limited cooperation. Governments, health experts and scientists have called for a more complete examination of the origins of the virus, which has killed more than 3.7 million people worldwide.
Late last month, Mr. Biden ordered American intelligence agencies to investigate the origins of the virus, an indication that his administration was taking seriously the possibility that the deadly virus had accidentally leaked from a lab, in addition to the prevailing theory that it was transmitted by an animal to humans outside a lab.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, highlighted on Thursday that “investigators need complete access to the information and to the sites” to “develop the right tools to make sure that this will never happen again.”
In the draft conclusions of next week’s summit between the European Union and the United States, leaders will call for “progress on a transparent, evidence-based and expert-led W.H.O.-convened Phase 2 study on the origins of Covid-19, that is free from interference.”