WASHINGTON 

The US must take the lead in the effort to vaccinate people worldwide against the coronavirus, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday.

Speaking at the State Department, Blinken said Washington brings unique capabilities to the global drive ranging from vaccine development, to forming international public-private partnerships “to organize the massive, sustained public effort it will take to fully end the pandemic.”

“This will be an unprecedented global operation,” the top diplomat said. “We have a duty to other countries to get the virus under control here in the United States, but soon the United States will need to step up our work and rise to the occasion worldwide, because again, only by stopping COVID globally will Americans be safe in the long-term.”

The US has currently approved three vaccines on an emergency basis for distribution, and has so far administered over 167 million doses, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

The vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which require the bulk of those administered in the US, require two separate shots administered weeks apart for an individual to be considered fully vaccinated. Another shot from drugmaker Johnson & Johnson requires just one dose.

A fourth vaccine candidate from AstraZeneca is set to face review at the Food and Drug Administration within the first half of April amid reports of fatal blood clots in nations that have already begun the rollout of that jab.

Worldwide, over 131 million people have been infected by the coronavirus, and more than 2.8 million have died, since the virus was first detected in China in December 2019.

As the US prepares to shift its distribution to countries worldwide, Blinken maintained Washington “won’t trade shots in arms for political favors.”

“This is about saving lives. We’ll treat our partner countries with respect. We won’t overpromise and under deliver,” he said. “We’ll maintain high standards for the vaccines that we help to bring to others, only distributing those proven to be safe and effective. We’ll insist on an approach based on equity.”

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