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Biden ramps up vaccine diplomacy efforts as hopes rise that he'll share surplus doses

April 6, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 21.7%. 2 min read.

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 02: A pharmacy technician fills syringes of COVID-19 vaccines in the gymnasium at Whitney M. Young Elementary School on April 2, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. The elementary school opened on Good Friday, located in the West End of Louisville, an area comprising primarily African American neighborhoods, in an effort to encourage Black residents to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden, well on his way to reaching a new goal of vaccinating 200 million Americans by the end of April, is taking initial steps toward helping other nations ramp up shots, including by boosting global manufacturing and appointing a top global health expert who previously advocated for shipping vaccines from the United States' surplus abroad.

(CNN)President Joe Biden, well on his way to reaching a new goal of vaccinating 200 million Americans by the end of April, is taking initial steps toward helping other nations ramp up shots, including by boosting global manufacturing and appointing a top global health expert who previously advocated for shipping vaccines from the United States' surplus abroad.

Diplomats view the developments as a sign Biden is moving toward sharing some of the hundreds of millions of doses the United States will have left over once every American is vaccinated.

But the President remains wary of sending vaccines overseas before people in the United States have access, and administration health experts continue to caution that extra doses may be needed as the virus mutates and the pandemic persists.

Increasingly wary of efforts by Beijing and Moscow to use their vaccines to foster good relations in countries desperate to begin vaccinating their populations, and nearing a point when any American who wants a vaccine can get one, Biden and his team have begun developing more robust plans to ramp up assistance efforts abroad.

Her appointment is an indication that the administration is now in a place to start thinking about how to share vaccines, an administration official said.

Officials said the possibility of more variants, and the prospect of requiring booster shots in the future, is driving some of the reluctance to distribute more of the US vaccine supply abroad, even though the administration expects a surplus of doses.

That could still be months away, and officials said they did not want to be in a position where they have shipped a vaccine overseas that is suddenly needed for American kids.

It is unclear what percentage of Americans need to be vaccinated before the Biden team will decide to start sharing vaccines with other countries, but that discussion is expected to take place in the coming days and weeks, administration officials said.

"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 at the State Department on Monday, announcing the new appointment.

The top US diplomat said Monday that the United States would not "trade shots in arms for political favors" but did not offer specific details on the administration's plans to share vaccines more broadly beyond its immediate neighbors.

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