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(LEAD) Biden says U.S. will share vaccines with vulnerable countries, including to S. Korea

All News 05:42 June 04, 2021

(ATTN: RECASTS 7th para to clarify the COVID-19 vaccines the U.S. agreed to provide to South Korea have yet to be delivered; UPDATES with more details, additional information in paras 8-13)
By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, June 3 (Yonhap) -- The United States plans to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to countries in need, including South Korea, President Joe Biden said Thursday.

The United States earlier pledged to provide up to 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 20 million doses that have already been approved for use in the United States. The other 60 million doses are from AstraZeneca, yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"As the United States continues our efforts to get every eligible American vaccinated and fight COVID-19 here at home, we also recognize that ending this pandemic means ending it everywhere," Biden said in a released statement.

"Today, we're providing more detail on how we will allocate the first 25 million of those vaccines to lay the ground for increased global coverage and to address real and potential surges, high burdens of disease, and the needs of the most vulnerable countries," he added.

At least 19 million of the 25 million doses will be distributed among countries through COVAX, an international initiative aimed at equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

The other 6 million doses will be shared directly with countries experiencing surges, as well as U.S. partners and neighbors such as "Canada, Mexico, India and the Republic of Korea," Biden said, referring to South Korea by its official name.

The U.S. has agreed to provide some 1 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to South Korea as a result of Biden's May 21 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington.

Biden said the U.S. vaccine would help inoculate South Korea's 550,000 armed services members who, he said, work closely with U.S. troops stationed in South Korea on a daily basis.

Jeffrey Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator, later said the 1 million doses were being loaded onto a plane headed to South Korea later in the day.

"After making a 2,000-mile journey to California, these 1 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 1 million South Koreans who have already signed up to get a shot," he said in a telephonic press briefing.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the Korean situation was "unique."

"The animating purpose behind that is actually about the protection of American forces and the forces who serve alongside American forces: the Korean troops who are standing shoulder to shoulder with us in that country," he told the telephonic conference.

The U.S. currently has some 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea under its bilateral defense treaty with its Asian ally.


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