The federal government spent nearly two billion dollars of taxpayer money on promoting COVID vaccination around the world, according to a new report from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
According to a report released on Thursday by USAID, the U.S. government spent $1.8 billion on promoting global COVID vaccination, and partnered with 120 different countries to donate 688 million COVID vaccination doses after launching “Global Vax” in December 2021.
“Global VAX demonstrated that a concerted push of technical support, diplomatic engagement, and funding can support countries to rapidly increase access to and confidence in vaccines in the midst of an evolving health emergency,” an executive summary of the report said.
The effort encompassed USAID, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Treasury Department.
The report added that government agencies were going to maintain international partnerships
“As the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, U.S. government agencies sustain partnerships around the world to save lives, strengthen health security and pandemic preparedness, promote social and economic progress, and support countries to achieve their goals for health and development,” the report said.
Prior to launching the Global Vax program in December 2021, the U.S. had already sent millions of doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines to South Africa and Niger.
The release of the report followed comments by USAID Administrator Sammantha Power on Wednesday suggesting that countries use religious leaders to push people into getting the COVID vaccine.
“If you are trying to get people to take a COVID vaccine, you may not, in that particular community, have resources to fund a pop-up clinic, but you can engage a faith leader for free,” Power said.
Power’s comments echoed the government’s domestic strategy where then National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins pushed for evangelical ministers to use their “credibility” to promote the COVID vaccine.
The vaccine, which was initially marketed as highly effective, faced backlash after the Biden administration attempted to implement an aggressive mandate and some medical experts questioned the efficacy of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine.