The federal government often gives less help to Black disaster survivors than their white neighbors. That’s a challenge for President Biden, who has vowed to fight both inequality and climate change.
Roy Vaussine and Charlotte Biagas live in modest, single-story homes about a dozen miles apart in southwest Louisiana. When Hurricane Laura tore through their community last August, the damage was nearly identical. A tree crashed through the roof of each house. Neither had insurance. Each sought help from the federal government.
At that point, their stories diverge. The Federal Emergency Management Agency initially gave Mr. Vaussine $17,000 in assistance; Ms. Biagas and her husband, Norman, got $7,000.
Their situations are different in another respect: Mr. Vaussine is white. Charlotte and Norman Biagas are Black.
A growing body of research shows that FEMA, the government agency responsible for helping Americans recover from disasters, often helps white disaster victims more than people of color, even when the amount of damage is the same. Not only do individual white Americans often receive more aid from FEMA; so do the communities in which they live, according to several recent studies based on federal data.
Leaders at FEMA are wrestling with the complicated question of why these disparities exist — and what to do about them. The problem seems to stem from complex systemic factors, like a real estate market that often places higher values on properties in communities with many white residents, or the difficulty of navigating the federal bureaucracy, which tends to favor people and communities that have more resources from the beginning.
The impact from this disparity is long-lasting. White people in counties with significant disaster damage that received FEMA help saw their personal wealth jump years later while Black residents lost wealth, research published in 2018 shows.
The imbalance comes as climate change fuels more frequent and more destructive storms, wildfires and other disasters, and marginalized communities tend to be both the most exposed to damage and least able to recover financially.
FEMA declined to comment on individual cases, citing privacy concerns, and said it had created an internal working group to examine the issue. In April, it asked the public for examples of policies “that perpetuate systemic barriers to opportunities and benefits for people of color and/or other underserved groups,” as well as ideas for improvement.
“We are advancing this work,” said Justin Knighten, FEMA’s director of external affairs, adding that the agency is working on a comprehensive public response. “That is a top priority for the administrator.”
The racial disparities in FEMA’s disaster assistance present a test for President Biden, who has made fighting both racial inequality and climate change central themes of his administration.
“All FEMA programs and policies need to be equitable, due to the disproportionate impact of disasters on marginalized communities,” said Chauncia Willis, co-founder and chief executive of the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management, a nonprofit group in Georgia. “It needs to become a core goal.”
The pressure on FEMA to address racial disparities is growing. The Government Accountability Office is looking at FEMA’s actions “to ensure more equitable outcomes” in its disaster programs. The agency’s own advisory council said FEMA isn’t meeting its legal requirement to provide aid without discrimination on racial or other grounds. During her Senate confirmation, the first question faced by Deanne Criswell, President Biden’s choice to run FEMA, was how she would ensure Black, brown and Latino survivors get equal access to disaster aid.
“It is unacceptable that minority communities not only feel the impact of natural disasters far more severely than others, but they also often have more difficulty obtaining assistance from the federal government,” Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement
The research so far suggests that the scale of the problem is immense.
After a disaster, FEMA’s Individual Assistance program offers grants to survivors who do not have insurance, providing as much as $36,000 for home repairs. Before giving money, FEMA or its contractors inspect a property for damage, and then determine whether that damage was caused by the disaster and how much to provide in assistance.
Ethan J. Raker, who recently earned a Ph.D. at Harvard and will be taking up an assistant professor position at the University of British Columbia this summer, used a public record request to obtain 5.4 million applications for FEMA assistance from homeowners affected by hurricanes between 2005 and 2016. He found racial disparities at every stage of the process.
The higher the percentage of Black residents living in a specific ZIP code, the less likely applicants there were to get an inspection, without which FEMA typically will not fund repairs, he found.
Even when disaster victims in African-American neighborhoods were able to get a damage inspection, 11 percent had their requests denied with no reason given. By comparison, just 4 percent of homeowners in white neighborhoods were denied with no reason given.
And when homeowners in Black areas succeeded at getting their applications approved, FEMA awarded them less money on average than applicants in white areas — between 5 percent and 10 percent less, Dr. Raker found.
A 2019 paper by Stephen Billings and Emily Gallagher, at the University of Colorado, found a similar pattern after Hurricane Harvey. Homeowners who lived on blocks with a greater share of nonwhite residents, as well as lower incomes and credit scores, had a lower chance of getting approved for FEMA grants.
“It should be the other way around,” Dr. Gallagher said, noting that more vulnerable populations have an even greater need for federal disaster assistance.
When it comes to money that FEMA reimburses counties and municipalities for rebuilding roads, bridges, hospitals and other facilities after a disaster, racial disparities exist as well.
Counties with a significant share of Black, Hispanic or Native American residents often receive less money from FEMA than mostly white counties, even when suffering the same amount of damage, according to a study published in 2019 by Simone J. Domingue, then a researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who analyzed FEMA grants to 1,621 counties from 2012 through 2015.
Racial disparities also exist in FEMA’s program that purchases and then demolishes damaged homes. Those buyouts are meant to help individual homeowners leave a dangerous location, and reduce future federal costs by avoiding paying for more damage in that spot.
But buyouts can leave people worse off, especially lower-income families who may not have enough money to purchase a home in a safer location. Buyouts can also hurt a community by hollowing it out, making it less attractive while also shrinking the tax base.
In a paper published last year, James R. Elliott, a sociology professor at Rice University, looked at FEMA buyouts around the country from 1990 to 2015. Dr. Elliott and his co-authors found that FEMA “seems to be disproportionately demolishing homes in communities of color,” he said.
The various FEMA programs appear to be making racial inequality worse, sometimes in surprising ways.
Research published in 2018 found that, for white Americans, living in a county hit by a large disaster was a financial boon. Those white residents didn’t just see their wealth grow — it grew five times as much, on average, as the wealth of white residents in counties without major disasters, according to the research by Dr. Elliott and Junia Howell, a sociology professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Wealth in these cases largely referred to changes in home values.
For Black residents of those same disaster-struck counties, by contrast, wealth levels shrank after a disaster, according to the research.
Changes in home values are probably part of the reason, according to the authors: As white neighborhoods receive new federal investment, demand for houses in those neighborhoods goes up, while Black neighborhoods often get less federal spending and so struggle to recover. And Black residents may be more likely to suffer a financial setback, such as losing a home or a job.
“The more aid an area receives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the more this inequality grows,” Dr. Howell and Dr. Elliott wrote. “FEMA aid — as currently administered — appears to exacerbate the problem.”
In interviews, researchers said they had no reason to believe FEMA was intentionally discriminating. Rather, the differences may flow from the realities of real estate, municipal finance and the challenges of navigating the federal bureaucracy.
Counties with more nonwhite residents may have less tax revenue, which means fewer staff or resources to navigate the complex process of seeking FEMA grants, or less money to pay the local share that FEMA requires. And houses in Black neighborhoods may have lower property values, which makes them more attractive for government buyout programs with limited funds.
More money to rebuild communities after a disaster may increase property values, pricing out lower-income renters. And individual disaster assistance tends to benefit homeowners more than renters, and people of color are more likely to rent.
The process of seeking FEMA’s help is also demanding, requiring documentation, internet access and time — making it burdensome for those who may be temporarily displaced, whose livelihood may be disrupted, and who may be also struggling to care for children or other family members.
The challenges of navigating that system can be seen in the cases of Mr. Vaussine and Mr. and Mrs. Biagas.
Hurricane Laura sent a pine tree through the roof of the single-story house that Charlotte Biagas grew up in, near a bayou on the north side of Lake Charles. That led to extensive water damage; six weeks later, Hurricane Delta dumped more rain into the home.
Her husband, a 55-year-old Navy veteran, had been working for his brother-in-law’s tiling and flooring business. But the pandemic caused business to dry up, and, with it, his income.
Then the hurricane hit, throwing their lives further into disarray: The couple had to move in with their son, three hours away near Houston. FEMA gave them a trailer to stay in, which remains parked in their driveway. The couple are only now in the process of moving back into their house.
Mr. Biagas described the application process as horrible. “My wife had to submit applications over and over again,” he said. “It was a very trying time.”
A tree also broke through the roof of Mr. Vaussine’s house, knocking out the back wall and destroying his bedroom and bathroom. But in a sense, Mr. Vaussine, an 87-year-old retired oil rig worker, was lucky: His niece, Sharon Moses, was able to handle his application process. Ms. Moses said her uncle has been able to stay with his girlfriend while his house is being repaired. He has yet to move back in.
Keith Turi, FEMA’s assistant administrator for disaster recovery, said in a statement: “Comparing what externally appears to be similar types and amounts of damage is an inaccurate way of evaluating whether a given household received the appropriate level of assistance.”
“If a person believes damages were not accurately captured and included, they can work with our FEMA team to appeal,” Mr. Turi said.
But the appeals process also leaves people of color at a disadvantage, experts said.
The Biagases and Mr. Vaussine appealed to FEMA for more money with the help of SBP, a nonprofit group that helps people cope with the complexity of FEMA programs.
Of the 33 families in and around Lake Charles that SBP has helped appeal their awards, 11 won more money, and the remaining cases are still in process, according to Reese May, the group’s chief strategy and innovation officer. None have been denied.
That success rate suggests that FEMA’s awards are too low, putting the onus on disaster survivors to fight for more, Mr. May said. Appealing is “an arduous process, and one that’s often confusing to the applicant.” Only 3 percent of FEMA applicants file an appeal, the Washington Post reported in April.
The appeals by the Biagases and Mr. Vaussine were both successful, thanks in part to SBP’s help obtaining independent damage estimates. They showed that Mr. Vaussine’s house suffered $60,821 in damage. Mr. and Mrs. Biagas had an almost identical amount of damage, $57,735.
In the end, Mr. and Ms. Biagas received a total of $26,000 from FEMA. Mr. Vaussine got $35,500. In each case, SBP is paying the difference between what FEMA provided and the total cost of repairs, using money raised from donors.
Mr. Biagas said the FEMA staff he dealt with “gave no indication of any kind of racism.” But he said that his neighborhood, which is predominantly African-American, is recovering more slowly than other areas nearby where most of the residents are white.
“We’re still rebuilding, and they’re up and running,” Mr. Biagas said. “I don’t understand it.”
Sanders signals openness to adjusting SALT cap
Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent in charge of the powerful Senate Budget Committee, signaled on Tuesday an openness to adjusting the cap on how much taxpayers can deduct in state and local taxes as he seeks to secure the support of nearly every Democrat in Congress for a multitrillion-dollar economic package.
Some congressional Democrats have warned that they may not support any changes to the tax code that do not also address that provision, put in place during the Trump administration, because of the impact on their constituents.
A draft budget document circulated by staff members on Capitol Hill and obtained by The New York Times included money to address the cap, which primarily increases the tax bills of higher-income residents of high-tax states like New York and California. The funding was not included in Mr. Biden’s original proposals and could amount to a partial repeal of the cap for some taxpayers.
“I have a problem with extremely wealthy people being able to get the complete deduction,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview, though he did not comment on specific details. “I think that’s an issue we’ll have to work on.”
Democrats have begun to move forward to pass some, if not all, of Mr. Biden’s economic agenda through the fast-track budget reconciliation process in order to bypass a Republican filibuster in the Senate. But the openness from Mr. Sanders underscored the breadth of compromises that rank-and-file lawmakers may have to accept to secure the necessary support of all 50 senators who caucus with Democrats and nearly every House Democrat.
Mr. Sanders, who has pushed for as much as $6 trillion in spending should bipartisan negotiations on a narrower infrastructure package collapse, said he had asked Democrats on his committee to outline their priorities as he moves to build consensus around an outline.
“OK, look, what do you think? What kind of numbers you’re comfortable with? And where would you like to cut back?” Mr. Sanders said as he described his approach. “We haven’t heard a lot about the cutting back.”
But he acknowledged the challenge in such maneuvers even as he pushes for various liberal priorities, including expanding Medicare benefits and eligibility and more spending. “We’re going to have to make sure that we end up with numbers that 50 members can agree on,” he said.
Mr. Sanders said he had not yet received a commitment from every senator for a $6 trillion package, even as he warned that a bipartisan infrastructure agreement would clear the Senate only with the promise that every Democrat would also support a reconciliation package.
“We’re going to have to work hard, and, you know, make some trade-offs, and so forth and so on,” he said. “I am more than willing to speak to every member and hear what they have to say.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, were expected to meet with White House officials Tuesday evening to discuss both bipartisan talks and the reconciliation process.
Among those expected to attend the meeting, according to an official familiar with the plans, were Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council; Steve Ricchetti, a top adviser to Mr. Biden; Louisa Terrell, the director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs; Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Susan Rice, the White House domestic policy adviser.
The meeting comes after a series of lengthy huddles on Tuesday between a bipartisan group of centrist senators and White House officials. Those talks, spearheaded by Senators Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, are expected to continue Wednesday.
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Asked about a statement from the Loyalist Communities Council saying Irish government ministers are no longer welcome in Northern Ireland, Lewis says that ministers from Ireland – and indeed from almost all other countries in the world – are welcome in Northern Ireland.
He says if anyone is threatening violence, that is not helpful.
Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, is giving evidence to the Commons Northern Ireland affairs committee.
Simon Hoare (Con), the committee chair, opens the questioning.
Should I Hang Out With Someone Whose Political Views I Hate?
The magazine’s Ethicist columnist on whether it’s hypocritical for a liberal to socialize with an increasingly extreme conservative.
I am a liberal in a blue city in a red state. One of my friends is married to a man who has become increasingly conservative over the past year (an “anti-Black Lives Matter, anti-abortion, Democrats are all idiots and socialists are taking over the country” mind-set), and his posts on social media are becoming more and more extreme. We occasionally socialize as couples. When we are together, I am friendly with him, and we avoid overt political talk, but as his social media becomes more and more extreme, I feel conflicted about continuing to accept invitations to socialize with them. Is it hypocritical of me to socialize with them when I find his personal political views so abhorrent? Name Withheld.
When I was 15 and in Britain for school, I came to know a neighbor of my English grandmother’s. Then in his 60s, he was a right-wing member of Parliament whose views on the major issues of the day were utterly remote from mine. All the same, we enjoyed spending time together — when he took me trout fishing, it always involved more talk than trout — and though politics was far from the only thing we discussed, it wasn’t a topic we avoided. Once, when he drove me to visit the college he had attended (and that I would too, just as he hoped), I spent two full hours trying to persuade him to support an upcoming resolution to maintain the abolition of capital punishment for murder. We must have made an odd pair — a reactionary M.P. with the strapping build of the heavyweight boxing champion he was as an undergraduate; a willowy brown teenager who kept up with what was then known as The Peking Review. Still, as we whizzed past the hedgerows and incurious sheep of the Cotswolds, we carried on a vigorous debate over an issue we both cared a great deal about.
I do understand why people prefer to limit their socializing to people who share their view of the world and to steer clear of the maddeningly misguided. In recent years, certainly, America has reshaped itself in ways that accommodate the tendency. With the rise of “assortative mating,” bankers — to paint in broad strokes — no longer marry secretaries; they marry other bankers. Doctors no longer marry nurses; they marry other doctors. And so on, up and down the lines of income and class. (Although social scientists have argued that this trend has deepened economic inequality, it also reflects substantial and welcome gains in gender equality in the workplace.) More to the point, the United States has become politically sorted: Increasingly, your neighborhood will be predominantly red or blue, not mixed. If racial segregation has diminished somewhat over the past generation, partisan segregation has risen.
And so have partisan identities. Your friend’s husband, that is, has the political views of his tribe. These views, as with any tribal shibboleths, will often matter to him because they are signs of his membership. Maybe a few of his views were arrived at by careful reflection, but he probably couldn’t argue effectively for most of his opinions before an open-minded audience. The trouble is that the same is almost certainly true of you. You have the liberal tribal beliefs and commitments. And — as a substantial body of social-science research suggests — you probably did not acquire them by deep and thoughtful analysis, because you are like most of us. Identity precedes ideology: Who you are determines what you believe.
I’m happy to stipulate that your views are enlightened and his benighted. Still, it’s possible that you and this fellow are in one respect allied — that you are both committed, as citizens, to participating together in the governance of this battered republic of ours. Despite the forces that would keep us socially and even geographically isolated from one another, you each have a reason to try to understand the other tribe; to figure out what its members believe and (to the extent that there are arguments involved) why they believe it. Democracy falters not when we disagree about things but when we lose interest in trying to make sense of the other person’s point of view and in trying to persuade that person of the merits of our own.
If you took no pleasure in hanging out with this person, you wouldn’t be asking me whether you can go on doing so. And yet you write as if there are only two options here — tolerating his views in silence or cutting him off. Here’s a third option: Stick with this fellow but speak up for your politics. Encourage him to do the same. When we stop talking even to people we know and like because of political disagreements, we’ve abandoned the deliberative-democratic project of governing the republic together.
Not that we should delude ourselves about our prospects for shifting the other person’s shibboleths. At the end of that car trip, my burly interlocutor got out of the car, stretched his legs and told me, almost ruefully: “You may have won all the arguments today. I’m still voting against the resolution.” It passed anyway. And there were many other topics to discuss, from village gossip to high politics, the next time we went fishing.
My daughter is getting married in the backyard of her fiancé’s parents’ home. The wedding is outside under a tent, and more than 100 people are attending. We have informally been keeping track of who is vaccinated of those who have accepted the invitation.
Nearly all the guests are vaccinated, including the bride and groom. But not the hosts — her fiancé’s parents. They don’t believe in the vaccine; they said they haven’t gotten it yet, which to me is an untruthful way of saying they are not getting it. The vaccine is readily available in their area; they could waltz in today without a wait. They also don’t like wearing masks.
The area is fairly quiet now, as the year-round population is small. Most homes are owned by those who spend only the summer there, and it is still off-season. But when the crowds descend, it will probably be a riskier area from a Covid-19-exposure perspective.
If my daughter’s in-laws agreed to host the wedding in their backyard, shouldn’t they have agreed to be fully vaccinated in consideration for the guests, tent-rental people, caterers, photographers and others? Name Withheld
It makes a big difference that this event is being held outdoors. The C.D.C. tells us that fully vaccinated people can, sans masks, safely attend even a crowded event if it’s outdoors. That rule doesn’t apply to those with compromised immune systems, who will want to take personal protective measures, but I fear the incautious parents of the groom may be the ones at greatest risk. Yes, for reasons both prudential and public-minded, they should get themselves vaccinated, substantially reducing their chance of contracting and transmitting infection and of worrying the newlyweds if they do fall ill. For the sake of harmony between your two clans, though, you might want to express yourself on this matter in a tone of concern rather than judgment. Weddings, after all, arose to celebrate the union of families, not just individuals.
Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches philosophy at N.Y.U. His books include “Cosmopolitanism,” “The Honor Code” and “The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity.” To submit a query: Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or send mail to The Ethicist, The New York Times Magazine, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018. (Include a daytime phone number.)
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Boris Johnson a pundit who stumbled into politics, says Cummings
Former aide says in Substack Q&A that No 10 is now ‘just a branch of the entertainment industry’
Last modified on Mon 21 Jun 2021 11.55 EDT
Downing Street under Boris Johnson is “a branch of the entertainment industry” and nothing will get done in terms of serious policy focus until he leaves, Dominic Cummings has said in his latest blast at his former boss.
In a question and answer session with paid subscribers to his Substack newsletter, Johnson’s former chief adviser described the prime minister as “a pundit who stumbled into politics and acts like that 99% of the time”.
Giving evidence to MPs last month, Cummings criticised Johnson as completely unfit to be prime minister, describing him as media obsessed and “like a shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other”.
On Monday, answering a question on the potential cybersecurity threat to the UK if another country develops human-level artificial general intelligence, or AGI, Cummings wrote that this would be huge, potentially giving those with AGI “the power to subdue everyone – and destroy us all”.
Cummings said that if he had stayed at No 10 – he was dismissed in November – he would have ordered a focus on the threat, but this would not happen under Johnson.
“NOTHING like this now will get serious focus in no10 – no10 now is just a branch of entertainment industry and will stay so til BJ gone, at earliest,” he wrote.
“The most valuable commodity in gvt is focus and the PM literally believes that focus is a menace to his freedom to do whatever he fancies today, hence why you see the opposite of focus now and will do til he goes …”
Earlier in the lengthy thread, Cummings was asked if he saw Johnson more as a hedgehog or fox, a reference to a celebrated Isaiah Berlin essay that categorised people into those who inhabit one central idea and those with a broader view.
He replied: “Neither, he’s a pundit who stumbled into politics and acts like that 99% of the time but 1% not – and that 1% is why pundits misunderstand him/underestimate him.”
Among a string of answers covering everything from his admiration for the 19th-century German statesman Otto von Bismarck to lessons from the 2016 Vote Leave campaign, Cummings also talked about what he had learned from proximity to power.
He wrote: “When you watch the apex of power you feel like, ‘If this were broadcast, everyone would sell everything and head for the bunker in the hills’.
“It’s impossible to describe how horrific decision-making is at the apex of power and how few people watching it have any clue how bad it is or any sense of how to do it better, it’s generally the blind leading the blind with a few non-blind desperately shoving fingers in dykes and clutching their heads …”
Cummings found time to further insult Matt Hancock, having claimed during his evidence to MPs that the health secretary lied to colleagues amid the Covid pandemic, later releasing screenshots of a message in which Johnson called Hancock “totally hopeless”.
Asked by one reader about some statements made by Hancock about Covid, and whether these revealed a particular philosophical approach within government, Cummings said: “Hancock just says nonsense things all the time, I would not infer there is some complex moral reasoning going on!”
U.S. Outlines Plan to Send 55 Million Covid Vaccine Doses Overseas
“The Biden-Harris administration announced the distribution list for the remaining 55 million of the 80 million doses of America’s own vaccine supply President Biden has pledged to send out globally and allocate by the end of June in service of ending the pandemic. Already, we have sent millions of doses to the world, including 2.5 million doses that arrived in Taiwan this weekend and in addition, sharing doses — In addition to sharing doses from our own vaccine supply, the Biden-Harris administration is committed to working with U.S. manufacturers to produce more vaccine doses to share with the world. And we’ve purchased, as we announced last week, or the week before that, half a billion Pfizer doses to donate to 92 low- and middle-income countries, and members of the African Union.” “Is there any indication that the red tape in this distribution is costing lives at this point? Why is it taking so long?” “Well, first, let me say, we’re committed to allocating those doses. We’ve done exactly that. What we found to be the biggest challenge is not actually the supply. We have plenty of doses to share with the world, but this is a herculean logistical challenge, and we’ve seen that as we’ve begun to implement. So, you know, as we work with countries, we need to ensure that there’s safety and regulatory information shared. Some supply teams need needles, syringes and alcohol pads. Transportation teams need to ensure that there are proper temperature storage, prevent breakage and ensure the vaccine immediately clears customs. So this has not, as you all know, been done before. Sometimes it’s even language barriers that occur as we’re working to get these doses out to countries. So, we have announced today where these doses are going. We will continue to announce as they land on the ground and as they are being shipped. And we’re looking forward to doing that as quickly as possible.”
Sharon LaFraniere and
The White House outlined a plan on Monday to allocate 55 million doses of coronavirus vaccine around the world, the remainder of 80 million doses that President Biden pledged to send by the end of June to countries desperate for vaccine.
Mr. Biden has a week and a half to meet his deadline, a task made more difficult as the administration tries to change which manufacturers’ vaccines would be included in the 55 million portion. Production problems at an Emergent BioSolutions factory in Baltimore have forced the administration to revise its initial plan to rely heavily on AstraZeneca’s vaccine for that donation. The White House did not specify on Monday which vaccines it would be sharing, but people familiar with the operation have said the administration is working to swap shots made by Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for AstraZeneca’s.
The distribution formula closely followed the one that the White House announced earlier this month for the first 25 million doses in the president’s pledge. Three-fourths of the 55 million doses will go to Covax, an international vaccine sharing initiative that helps less wealthy nations. Of those, 14 million will go to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean; 16 million will be distributed to nations across Asia; and 10 million will be sent to countries in Africa.
The remaining one-fourth will be spread among at least two dozen places to help address virus surges, including Colombia, Argentina, Haiti, the Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq, Ukraine, Bosnia, South Africa, the West Bank and Gaza.
The donation of 80 million doses pales in comparison to the Biden administration’s plan, announced in early June, to share 500 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine within the next 12 months. But with many countries unable to vaccinate even a tiny percentage of their populations, global health officials are pressing the United States to move as quickly as possible to share its vaccine supply.
The gap in vaccination rates between rich and poor countries is stark. According to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford, high or upper middle countries account for 86 percent of shots administered worldwide while low-income countries account for less than half of one percent.
The federal government has purchased far more vaccine than the nation can possibly use, and distributed more than states can promptly administer as the pool of people eager to get vaccinated dwindles. More than 60 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are sitting in storage in states across the nation, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The White House said it is still working through a variety of logistical and regulatory issues involved in shipping vaccine overseas, like safely transporting the doses and, at times, having to send related supplies, like syringes and alcohol pads, along with them. It said it will release which specific vaccines are being shared and in what amounts later.
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