US President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, on Thursday — officially making the country the largest contributor to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator in the fight against COVID-19.
The ACT-Accelerator is a global coalition working to fund research and development of health technologies that will end the pandemic. Launched by the WHO, European Commission, France, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020, the ACT-Accelerator seeks to quickly identify innovative COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and therapeutics.
In February, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) released a statement announcing that the US would contribute $4 billion over the next two years to support COVAX, the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator created to provide COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries.
Public health experts recognize the positive global potential of COVAX to end the pandemic and distribute doses, according to the New York Times. Countries like India and China have already donated doses of the vaccine to other nations, and French President Emmanuel Macron recently called on Europe and the US to commit to giving 4-5% of their COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries.
According to a White House official, the US has no current plans to share its vaccine supply while its domestic vaccination campaign is expanding.
In a statement released Wednesday, Biden explained how the American Rescue Plan would support American citizens.
“Now we move forward with the resources needed to vaccinate the nation; to get $1,400 in direct payments to 85% of American households; to expand coverage and help with lowering health care premiums,” he said.
While Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill will address the economic damage caused by the pandemic — through funding anti-poverty programs and expanding unemployment insurance — its inclusion of $11 billion in foreign aid demonstrates the country’s commitment to a multilateral COVID-19 response.
Of the $11 billion set aside for international aid, $7.5 billion will go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat COVID-19 locally and globally, and $580 million will support the United Nations' Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19.
The law will also contribute $3.5 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and $905 million for USAID global health activities to respond to COVID-19, including a contribution to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) for vaccine development and to support epidemic preparedness.
As nations around the world continue to fight the pandemic, the increase in funding for international organizations will help provide resources to ensure vaccine equity and protect the most vulnerable populations.
Disclosure: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funding partner of Global Citizen.
Editor's note: This piece has been updated to include a disclosure that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funding partner of Global Citizen. We regret the oversight.