Washington (AFP) -
The United States is shipping another four million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam, the White House said Tuesday, bringing the total of US doses donated globally to nearly 270 million.
A senior administration official told AFP that 4,149,990 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are being sent, bringing the total delivered to Vietnam by the United States to 17,589,110 doses. Shipments began Tuesday.
Globally, there have now been 268,472,780 doses sent out to 110 countries, which the official, who asked not to be identified, said 'is more than all countries combined have shared.'
President Joe Biden has made fighting Covid-19 the main focus of his administration since taking office in January, also arguing that giving away vaccines abroad must go hand in hand with domestic efforts.
'As the president has said, America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our fight against Covid-19,' the official said.
In a veiled reference to accusations that US rivals China and Russia use vaccine diplomacy as a tool to exert leverage over less well resourced countries, the official said 'our vaccines do not come with strings attached.'
Vietnam, which has a population of about 100 million, has recorded 1.1 million infections and almost 24,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
However, fallout from lockdowns imposed to prevent the spread from spiralling out of control have devastated the economy.
Vietnam was among the strongest economies in Asia last year and one of the few in the world to expand after it kept virus numbers low and businesses largely open.
But the latest coronavirus wave, which began in April in its northern industrial parks and rapidly spread south to business hub Ho Chi Minh City, 'caused serious impact' to the economy, the government said at the end of September.
Between July and September, GDP shrank 6.17 percent year-on-year, which state-run news outlet VNExpress said was the first time Vietnam had recorded negative quarterly growth since 2000.
According to Johns Hopkins University's Covid tracker, just over 43 percent of the Vietnamese population is fully vaccinated.