Remarks by President Biden on the COVID-19 Vaccination Program and the Effort to Defeat COVID-19 Globally
Tregenna Castle Resort
Cornwall, United Kingdom
PRESIDENT BIDEN: Good evening, everyone. First, I want to express our condolences on behalf of Jill and I to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, the entire Royal Family, and the people of the United Kingdom. Today would have been Prince Philip’s 100th birthday, and I know there are a lot of people feeling his absence today.
In addition, I’d like to point out that the — the greet from the British government has been exemplary. We’ve had a good first full day here in the UK. Prime Minister Johnson and I had a very productive meeting. We discharged and discussed a broad range of issues on which the United Kingdom and the United States are working in very close cooperation.
We affirmed the Special Relationship — and it’s not said lightly — the Special Relationship between our people, and we renewed our commitment to defending the enduring democratic values that both our nations share — (clears throat) — that are the strong — excuse me — the strong foundation of our partnership.
Eighty years ago, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt signed an agreement known as the Atlantic Charter. It was a statement of first principles — a promise that the United Kingdom and the United States would meet the challenges of their age and they would meet it together.
Today, we’ve built on that commitment with a revitalized Atlantic Charter updated to reaffirm that promise while speaking directly to the key challenges of this century: cybersecurity, emerging technologies, global health, and climate change.
We discussed our common goals for driving ambitious global action to address the climate crisis. The Climate Leaders Summit that I hosted in April was, in part, about helping drive forward the momentum toward the critical COP 26 that the UK will host in Glasgow later this year.
We talked about the shared sacrifices our service members have made, bravely serving side by side in Afghanistan for close to 20 years. The UK was with us from the start, as they always are, equally committed to rooting out the terrorist threat, and now we’re coordinating our withdrawal together.
And, of course, we talked about how our two nations can, together, lead the global fight against COVID-19. That’s been a major focus of the G7 under British leadership, particularly in focusing and coordinating our resources to help vaccinate the world.
And tonight, I’m making a historic announcement regarding America’s leadership in the fight against COVID-19. America knows firsthand the tragedies of this pandemic. We’ve had — we’ve had more people die in the United States than anywhere in the world: nearly 600,000 of our fellow Americans — moms, dads, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents. More deaths from COVID-19 in the United States than from World War One, World War Two, the Vietnam War, and 9/11 combined — combined. We know the tragedy.
But we also know the path to recovery. The United States has now vaccinated 64 percent of our adults with at least one shot. Just four and half months ago, we were at only 5 percent with one shot.
It took a herculean effort on the part of our government to manage one of the biggest and, I would say, most complicated logistical challenges in our history. It took the ingenuity of scientists, building on decades of research, to develop a vaccine. It took the full capacity of American companies manufacturing and delivering the vaccines around the clock.
And as a result, we have the lowest number of daily deaths since the first day of this pandemic. Our economy is rebounding. Our vaccination program has already saved tens of thousands of lives, with that count growing each day. And it has allowed millions — millions of Americans to get back to living their lives.
And from the beginning of my presidency, we have been clear-eyed that we need to attack this virus globally as well. This is about our responsibility — our humanitarian obligation to save as many lives as we can — and our responsibility to our values.
We value the inherent dignity of all people. In times of trouble, Americans reach out to offer help and to offer a helping hand. That’s who we are.
And when we see people hurting and suffering anywhere around the world, we seek to help as best we can. That’s why, under both Republican and Democratic Presidents, the United States has made transformative commitments to bolster global health — commitments under President Bush, like PEPFAR, which changed the global fight against HIV/AIDS. And in this moment, our values call on us to do everything that we can to vaccinate the world against COVID-19.
It’s also in America’s self-interest. As long as the virus rages elsewhere, there is a risk of new mutations that could threaten our people.
We know that raging COVID-19 in other countries holds back global growth, raises instability, and weakens governments. And as we’ve seen in the United States, with the evidence clearer day by the day, the key to reopening and growing economies is to vaccinate your people.
Our vaccination program has helped the American economy begin to recover from the worst economic crisis in a century. Over 2 million new jobs created just in the last four months since I’ve become President. A historic decline in long-term unemployment. Businesses reopening and a projected economic growth of nine point — excuse me, 6.9 percent — the fastest in nearly four decades in America.
Just as the American economy is recovering, it is in all of our interests to have the global economy begin to recover as well. And that won’t happen unless we can get the pandemic under control worldwide.
That’s why, as I said in my address to the joint session of Congress in April, America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our fight against COVID- — COVID-19, just as America was the arsenal of democracy during World War Two.
Over the past four months, we have taken a number of steps toward this historic effort. We have contributed more than any nation to COVAX — a collective global effort that is delivering COVID-19 vaccines across the world.
We have supported manufacturing efforts abroad through our partnerships with Japan, India, and Australia — known as the “Quad.” We’ve shared doses with our neighbors Canada and Mexico.
And in addition, three weeks ago, with America’s vaccines — America’s vaccine supply secured and with confidence we have enough vaccines to cover every American who wants one, we announced that we would donate 80 million doses of our own vaccine — in house now — to supply the world by the end of June. Many of these doses are shipping to countries around the world as we speak.
And today, we’re taking a major step that will supercharge the global fight against this pandemic. At my direction, the United States will purchase an additional half billion doses from Pfizer — the Pfizer vaccine — that we’ll donate nearly 100 low- and lower-middle-income countries. They will be the beneficiaries.
Let me say that again: The United States will purchase a half a billion doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to donate to nearly 100 nations that are in dire need in the fight against this pandemic. That’s a historic step. The largest single purchase and donation of COVID-19 vaccines by any single country ever.
Importantly, this is an mRNA vaccine, which is proven to be extremely effective against COVID-19 and every known variant of that virus thus far.
These half a billion vaccines will start to be shipped in August as quickly as they roll off the manufacturing line. Two hundred million of these doses will be delivered this year, in 2021, and 300 million more will be delivered in the first half of 2022.
Let me be clear: Just as with the 80 million doses we previously announced, the United States is providing these half million [billion] doses with no strings attached. Let me say it again: with no strings attached.
Our vaccine donations don’t include pressure for favors or potential conce- — concessions. We’re doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic. That’s it. Period.
I also want thank Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s CEO and Chairman, for joining me today. We’ve gotten to know each other over the last few months. He and I and his entire team have really — he’s really stepped up at this critical stage in our fight against the pandemic.
And the plan is for a half a billion doses that we’ll be sending around the world to be produced in the United States,
including at Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Eighty years ago, not too far from that plant in Kalamazoo in the Detroit area, American workers built tanks and planes and vehicles that helped defeat the global threat of fascism in World War Two. They built what became known as the “arsenal of democracy.”
Now, a new generation of American men and women, working with the day’s — working with today’s latest technology, is going to build a new arsenal to defeat the current enemy of world peace, health, and stability: COVID-19.
Albert was gracious enough to welcome me to Kalamazoo plant back in February. It’s incredible the ingenuity, the care, the safety that goes into every single dose as I toured the entire plant.
Most of all, when you’re there, you feel the pride every worker there feels, how — the pride they feel in what they are doing. I’ve been to a lot of plants. I have worked — I’m a big union guy. I’ve been doing it my whole career. But you could see the looks on their faces; they were proud. I mean it sincerely, they were proud of what they were doing. They knew what they were doing.
American workers will now produce vaccines to save lives of people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. People they will never meet and have never met in places they’ve never visited and probably won’t have an opportunity to, but lives saved all the same thanks to American leadership and American workers’ hard work and values.
Let me close with this: This is a monumental commitment by the American people. As I said, we’re a nation full of people who step up at times of need to help our fellow human beings, both at home and abroad. We’re not perfect, but we step up.
But we’re not alone in this endeavor, that’s the point I want to make. We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic, working alongside our global partners.
Under the UK chairmanship of the G7, democracies of the world are posed to deliver as well. This U.S. contribution
is the foundation for additional coordinated efforts to help vaccine the world — vaccinate the world.
The British government, the Prime Minister has led a strong campaign to get people vaccinated across the UK, and I’m grateful they’re making their own generous donation.
Tomorrow, the G7 nations will be announcing the full scope of our commitment — “our,” meaning the G7. And I want to thank all of my G7 partners for stepping up to recognize our responsibility to meet the moment. I’m looking forward to working with my counterparts on these efforts in the coming days and much more.
One final point I want to make clear: This is not the end of our efforts to fight COVID-19 or vaccinate the world. We have to turn manufacturing — we have to turn manufactured doses into shots in arms to protect people and communities.
That’s why the United States is already providing hundreds of millions in funding to support last-minute vaccination efforts, including new funding from Congress as part of the American Rescue Plan and working with programs in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
We’re going to keep manufacturing doses, donating doses, getting “jabs” — as they say here in the UK — in arms, until the world has beaten this virus.
I want to thank you all. Now, I’d like to turn it over to my friend, the CEO and Chairman of Pfizer, Aver- — Al- — Albert Bourla.
Albert, it’s all yours. And, again, personally, thank you for stepping up.
MR. BOURLA: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. BOURLA: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. President. And it is, of course, a great honor to be with you today for this historic announcement.
As the G7 countries come together for this critical summit, the eyes of the world are on the leaders of these powerful nations to help solve the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. While great progress has been made in many developed nations, the world is now asking the G7 leaders to shoulder the responsibility to help vaccinate people in all countries.
Mr. President, I know from our conversations that we agree that every man, woman, and child on the planet, regardless of financial condition, race, religion, or geography deserve access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.
And once again, the United States has answered the call, and we are grateful to you and your administration for your leadership in this front.
Today, we are providing 500 million doses of the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine to the world’s poorest nations. This will significantly enhance our ability to meet our goal of providing 2 billion doses of the vaccine to low- and middle-income countries over the next 18 months.
Thanks to the ingenuity of so many scientists and the dedication of so many manufacturing workers, today we can see clearly the light at the end of the tunnel. But we still have work to do. And I can assure you, Mr. President, that we will be relentless in pursuing more services to end the pandemic.
Just this week, we began dosing participants aged 5 to 11 years old in a global Phase 2/3 study. In this respect, we continue our studies in pregnant women.
We are also closely monitoring and addressing the emerging variants, we are testing our vaccine’s response to newly arising variants, and we are coordinating with public health authorities around the world on surveillance efforts.
So far, data saw that none of the existing variant strains has escaped the protection provided by our vaccine. I repeat: none. Not one.
Still, we have built a process to develop, within 100 days, a new vaccine if needed. God forbid.
Our scientists are also pursuing an oral treatment against COVID-19. Initial indications are promising. And if things goes well, we could apply for approval before the end of this year.
But I wanted to finish my — by coming back to the importance of your announcement today, Mr. President. In a pandemic, everyone is only as protected as their neighbors — their neighbors down the street, as well as their global neighbors around the world.
Today’s announcement with the U.S. government gets us closer to our goal and significantly enhances our ability to save even more lives across the globe.
Mr. President, I want to thank you for your leadership, vision, and partnership. We look forward to continue to work with your administration to ensure that science wins the battle against COVID-19.
PRESIDENT BIDEN: Thank you.
MR. BOURLA: Thank you.
PRESIDENT BIDEN: Thank you all.