U.S. to detail plan for global distribution of 80 million vaccine doses


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a meeting with the foreign ministers of Mexico and Central American Integration System (SICA) member states at Intercontinental Hotel Costa Rica, in San Jose, Costa Rica June 1, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/Pool

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - The United States will announce in the next two weeks how it will distribute 80 million COVID-19 vaccine doses it has pledged globally, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado, Blinken said the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden would focus on equitable distribution and not tie political strings to the process.

On Monday, Biden said his administration would send at least 20 million doses of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, on top of 60 million AstraZeneca Plc doses he had already planned to give to other countries.

"Sometime within the next two weeks we will be announcing the process by which we will distribute those vaccines," Blinken said during his first trip as secretary of state to Latin America, which is fighting to contain COVID-19.

Blinken said the announcement would reveal the criteria and details of the process.

The Biden administration has been under pressure to share vaccines to help curb worsening outbreaks from India to Brazil, where health experts fear new, more contagious coronavirus variants could undermine the effectiveness of available shots.

As the pandemic outlook within the United States brightens with advancing vaccinations, the aid pledge is central to the administration's drive to use U.S. vaccine supply as a tool to counter Chinese and Russian vaccine diplomacy.

Costa Rica's Alvarado stressed that his country was hoping for prompt news on vaccine distribution.

Earlier on Tuesday, the World Bank urged the United States to free up excess vaccines.

(This story removes reference to sale in paragraphs 1, 4)

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in San Jose, Costa Rica; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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