Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday addressed the growing criticism over the US’ lack of sharing COVID-19 vaccines with other countries, and vowed that the US won’t “trade shots in arms for political favors.”
During remarks at the State Department on Monday, Blinken spoke about the department’s plans to share COVID-19 vaccine supplies as the US hits record numbers of vaccinations.
“As we get more confident in our vaccine supply here at home, we are exploring options to share more with other countries going forward,” Blinken said. “We believe that we will be in a position to do much more on this front.”
Blinken acknowledged requests by many countries, some of which he said are being made with “growing desperation,” for the US to step up in sharing unused vaccines.
“We hear you, and I promise we’re moving as fast as possible,” Blinken said.
Blinken said that the US will be guided by “core values” in sharing its vaccine supply with other countries, adding that the country won’t “trade shots in arm for political favors.”
“This is about saving lives,” Blinken said. “We’ll treat our partner countries with respect.”
Blinken vowed that the US won’t “overpromise and underdeliver” when it comes to exporting COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’ll maintain high standards for the vaccines that we help to bring to others, only distributing those proven to be safe and effective,” Blinken said. “We’ll insist on an approach built on equity.”
Blinken, however, did not indicate the rate of vaccinations in the US that the Biden administration is eyeing before the country begins sharing COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
Blinken’s remarks were issued amid Russia and China taking a different approach to vaccine diplomacy. China began its widespread exports of vaccines before making them widely available in the country. Russia and India have also shared COVID-19 vaccine supplies with other countries, but at a smaller rate compared to China. Last month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that it is supplying free vaccines to 69 countries and commercially exporting them to 28 more.
Watch Blinken’s remarks below: