Via Teleconference Washington D.C. June 3 11:10 A.M. EDT
Good morning and thank you for joining us. Today I will begin with an update both on our domestic and global efforts to defeat COVID-19. We have here with us National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who will join me in speaking about our next steps in our global COVID-19 response. Then, Dr. Walensky will give an update on the state of the pandemic, and Dr. Fauci will discuss the latest science. We'll leave some time for Q&A at the end.
On his first full day in office, President Biden released a comprehensive strategy to marshal a whole-of-government wartime effort to defeat the pandemic. We have spent each and every day of the last four and a half months executing against that strategy. And today I want to provide an update on the progress we are making: first, on our efforts to get Americans vaccinated as quickly, efficiently, and equitably as possible; and second, on our efforts to help combat the pandemic globally.
Here at home, we have built a best-in-class vaccination program. Already 63 percent of adult Americans have received at least one shot, and 52 percent of adult Americans are fully vaccinated. Already 12 states have 70 percent of adults with at least one shot. That's an important milestone. And 28 states and the District of Columbia have fully vaccinated 50 percent or more of their adult population. As a result, in communities and states across the country, the pandemic is in retreat.
Since the President took office on January 20th, cases are down over 90 percent and deaths are down over 85 percent. Our successful vaccination program isn't just saving tens of thousands of lives. It's letting tens of millions of Americans get back to living their lives.
It's fair to say that we're far ahead of where anyone thought we would be in our fight against the virus. And, importantly, we have secured enough vaccine supply for all Americans. This is a direct result to the President taking aggressive action, including through the use of the Defense Production Act, the DPA, to mobilize the full force of U.S. vaccine manufacturing and production.
Because of those actions and the success of U.S. vaccine manufacturers, we are confident in our supply of our authorized vaccines. As a result, we're removing the DPA priority ratings for AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Sanofi. While the manufacturers will continue to make these three vaccines, this action will allow U.S.-based companies that supply these vaccine manufacturers to make their own decisions on which orders to fulfill first.
For all the progress we've made as a country, as the President reiterated yesterday afternoon, we have millions of Americans still in need of protection and communities at risk because of low vaccination rates.
Here's the bottom line: The bottom line is that if you are unvaccinated, you are still at risk of getting seriously ill or spreading the disease to others.
To help get as many people vaccinated as we can by July 4th, we're kicking off a month of action, mobilizing an all-of- America effort, including new commitments from childcare providers across the country to provide free drop-in childcare to allow parents to get vaccinated; extended hours of local pharmacies for vaccinations, including many pharmacies that will be open 24 hours every Friday starting next week; commitments from states in the private sector to incentivize vaccinations and celebrate our progress, including free beer for everyone over the age of 21, on July 4th, courtesy of Anheuser-Busch.
And the Vice President is leading a "We Can Do This" national vaccination tour. This national vaccination tour to key communities across the country will help reach millions of Americans who still need protection against the virus, highlight the ease of getting vaccinated, encourage vaccination, and energize and mobilize grassroots vaccine education and outreach efforts.
As the days get brighter and brighter at home, we're focused on driving progress to help the pandemic — help end the pandemic around the globe. It's both the right thing to do and an important step in protecting Americans by helping to stamp out the virus.
The President has committed that the U.S. will be an arsenal for vaccines, and our work on vaccine supply is guided by a three-part approach:
First, having successfully secured enough supply of vaccine for Americans, we are donating surplus U.S. vaccine supply and encouraging other countries with surplus supplies to do the same. In March, the U.S. shared over 4 million doses of our AstraZeneca vaccine supply with Canada and Mexico. And the President has announced a U.S. commitment to sharing a total of 80 million doses by the end of June. This is five times the number of doses any other country has committed to sharing. And these 80 million doses represent 13 percent of the total vaccines produced by the United States by the end of this month.
We will continue to donate additional doses across the summer months as supply becomes available. But at the same time, we know that won't be sufficient. So the second part of our approach is working with U.S. vaccine manufacturers to vastly increase vaccine supply for the rest of the world in a way that also creates jobs here at home. Driven by the aggressive actions that have been taken to accelerate manufacturing and production lines in the U.S., Pfizer and Moderna have already increased their capacity to produce vaccines for the world.
The third part of our approach will have us work with our partner nations and pharmaceutical companies and other manufacturers to facilitate the kind of global vaccine manufacturing and production capacity and capabilities that can not only help the world beat this pandemic, but also prepares the world to respond to potential future threats.
Today we're outlining our framework for sharing with the world the first 25 million doses. To be clear, our approach is to ensure vaccines are delivered in a way that is equitable and follows the latest science and public health data.
Across the coming weeks, the administration will move as expeditiously as possible and work through regulatory requirements and logistical details to ensure safe and secure delivery of doses.
This is certainly a complex operational challenge but one that we take on and will get done. In fact, less than two weeks ago, the President committed to providing one million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the Republic of Korea.
After making a 2,000-mile journey to California, these one million doses are being loaded into a plane that will take off to the Republic of Korea this evening, carrying hope and bringing life-saving protection to the one million South Koreans who have already signed up to get a shot.
This is just the beginning. We expect a regular cadence of shipments around the world across the next several weeks. And in the weeks ahead, working with the world's democracies, we will coordinate a multilateral effort, including through the G7, to combat and end the pandemic.
Now, let me turn it over to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
Thanks, Jeff. As Jeff said, today we are announcing our plan for sharing the first 25 million U.S. vaccines with the world. I'm going to briefly outline why we are sharing them, how we plan to share them, and where we will share them.
First, our goal in sharing our vaccines is in service of ending the pandemic globally. Our overarching aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible. It's as simple as that. We want to save lives and thwart variants that place all of us at risk. But perhaps most important: This is just the right thing to do.
Thanks to the ingenuity of American scientists and the resilience and commitment of the American people, we're in a position to help others, so we will help others. And as the President has said, the United States will not use its vaccines to secure favors from other countries.
Next, I want to say a little bit about how we are sharing. We've received requests from all over the world, and a number of important factors went into our decision about how to allocate these first 25 million vaccines. These factors included achieving global coverage, responding to surges and other specific urgent situations and public health needs, and helping as many countries as possible who requested vaccines.
We've also decided to prioritize helping our neighbors. We made the decision to share at least 75 percent of these vaccines through COVAX. This will maximize the number of vaccines available equitably for all countries and will facilitate sharing with those most at risk. And we decided to share up to 25 percent of these vaccines for immediate needs and to help with surges around the world. We can share these 25 percent in a flexible way.
Finally, I want to talk a little bit about where we are sharing these first 25 million doses. We're sharing them in a wide range of countries within Latin America and the Caribbean; South and Southeast Asia; and across Africa, in coordination with the African Union.
This includes prioritizing our neighbors here in our hemisphere, including countries like Guatemala and Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, and many others. It respects existing regional networks for vaccine sharing, like the platform of the African Union and African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and the regional public health agency in the Caribbean — CARPHA.
These networks will help decide where to allocate needed doses in regions with low vaccination rates and to those most at risk, including healthcare workers who haven't yet gotten their shots.
Our approach also prioritizes South and Southeast Asia, including countries like India, Nepal, the Philippines, and others that are undergoing surges right now. It recognizes our closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico, which received our first shared vaccines; and friends like the Republic of Korea, where our military shares a command. And it prioritizes other partners around the world, including countries with low vaccination rates or dealing with urgent present crises, like the West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Iraq, Haiti, and others.
In the days ahead, we will coordinate closely with COVAX and with countries that will receive our vaccines. And as Jeff has said, this is only the beginning.
The President has committed to sharing doses on an ongoing basis, starting with 80 million by the end of June. We will continue to donate from our excess supply as that supply is delivered to us. We will work with our international partners to get ahead of the virus, to follow the science, and to help countries in crisis.
We also know that this won't be enough to end or reduce the lifespan of the pandemic, and that's why we're working with allies and partners to expand the production of vaccines and raw materials, including here at home, as Jeff described, and by building capacity around the world.
We're also working with our G7 partners on a larger effort to help end the pandemic so that the world's democracies deliver for people everywhere. And we will have more to say about this next week when the G7 leaders meet in the UK.
We will continue to build on our existing health and health security efforts focused on stopping the spread of COVID-19: increasing vaccination, detecting outbreaks and variants, responding rapidly to flares, and critically recovering economically here at home and around the world. And we will do so in a way that strengthens our global public health institutions and our ability to come together as an international community to defeat not just this pandemic, but the next one and the one after that.
As President Biden said in May, this is a unique moment in history, and it requires American leadership, American science and ingenuity, American perseverance, and the world's democracies to step up to the plate. Today, I'm proud to say that that effort is underway. Thanks.
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