CORNWALL – The United States will buy 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to donate to impoverished nations, signaling a massive new investment in the worldwide inoculation campaign, according to a person familiar with the initiative.

President Joe Biden will announce the plan today (Thursday) while attending the annual summit of the Group of Seven, made up of the leaders of seven of the world’s largest democracies, in Cornwall, England. The Pfizer doses will be provided to COVAX, an international partnership for distributing vaccines to low-income countries.

The donation represents a cornerstone of the U.S. effort to bring the global pandemic to an end, as well as to counter the influence of authoritarian countries like Russia and China, which were quicker to provide vaccines overseas. Biden focused first on providing enough vaccines to Americans, drawing criticism from humanitarian organizations who said the world’s richest nation shouldn’t be sitting on the sidelines.

Ramping up international vaccine distribution will not only save lives by curtailing COVID-19 outbreaks but also stem the emergence of new, potentially more dangerous variants that could spread more quickly from country to country, lengthening a pandemic that has already killed an estimated 3.75 million people.

Speaking to U.S. military personnel after landing in England, Biden said he would use the summit to urge allied nations to play a larger role in addressing the coronavirus and other problems like climate change. He’s also scheduled to attend meetings with NATO and the European Commission in Brussels. He’ll then travel to Geneva to sit down with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, which is not part of the G-7.

“The United States is back and the democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges,” he said.

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