The CARICOM Foreign Ministers took the opportunity to urge Blinken to assist with access to much needed vaccines which was an imperative for the Region to emerge from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.
Secretary of State Blinken stressed his determination to strengthen co-operation and co-ordination and stated that he would engage with his colleague US Cabinet Secretaries on the issues of mutual interest raised by the CARICOM Ministers.
However, what Blinken failed to tell his CARICOM colleagues, was that under a contract signed by the Trump administration with the vaccine manufacturers, the United States Government is prohibited from sharing its surplus doses of COVID-19 vaccines with the rest of the world.
According to Vanity Fair, in the contract language it has obtained, the agreements between the US government and Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen state: “The Government may not use, or authorize the use of, any products or materials provided under this Project Agreement, unless such use occurs in the United States” or U.S. territories.
The clauses in question are designed to ensure that the manufacturers retain liability protection, but they have had the effect of projecting the Trump administration’s America First agenda into the Biden era.
“That is what has completely and totally prohibited the U.S. from donating or reselling, because it would be in breach of contract,” said a senior administration official involved in the global planning effort. “It is a complete and total ban. Those legal parameters must change before we do anything to help the rest of the world,” he said.
However, the Biden Administration is planning to get around the constraints negotiated by the former US administration by expediting plans to have the U.S. serve as a major manufacturer of affordable, high-quality COVID vaccines for the entire world.
The effort began on March 2, when the Biden administration announced that under the Defense Production Act, Merck would repurpose two of its U.S. manufacturing plants to begin producing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, an unusual and unholy alliance that could yield as many as one billion doses a year. This could provide a real ability for the U.S. to become a major supplier” of COVID vaccines.
In an effort to get around the language of Trump/vaccine manufacturers contract arrangement and the Biden administration announced plans to “loan” 4 million AstraZeneca doses to Mexico and Canada, and sent 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico.
Before the doses could be shipped, the two countries had to negotiate separate contracts to indemnify AstraZeneca. Even then, the use of the term “loan” was designed to end-run the language in the original Operation Warp Speed contracts.
White House officials point to the AstraZeneca “loan” as an example of how they were able to overcome contractual obstacles to help global partners. “As we get increasing confidence that we have enough vaccines, we will explore options for sharing more broadly,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing on March 22.
In the meantime, CARICOM countries in their own enlightened self interest, will have to enter into arrangements with the Russians, the Chinese and the Cubans to get whatever vaccines are available and on the market, to vaccinate their populations.
- Countries: CARICOM
- Business Planning In A Post-COVID Environment
- Secretary-General accredits Guyana’s new Ambassador to CARICOM
- CARICOM and USA To Work Together on COVID-19, Climate Change, Security
- JAMAICA | PNP wants explaination for drastic reduction in COVID-19 PCR Testing
- JAMAICA | Gov’t Looking At Contingency Plan For Tourism Sector