U.S. lags behind Russia and China in sending COVID-19 vaccines to struggling nations in need

U.S. donates 20M more vaccine doses abroad
U.S. donates 20M more vaccine doses abroad 03:49

While about 37% of Americans are fully vaccinated, many nations struggle to get vaccines and have turned to other world powers like China and Russia to secure doses.

President Biden on Monday announced the U.S. will send 20 million doses of federally authorized COVID-19 vaccines to other countries. That's in addition to the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine the Biden administration committed to be sent to other nations by July.

America ordered enough vaccines to vaccinate its population twice, while many other countries are still struggling to secure them. A United Nations program backed by the U.S. has so far delivered fewer than 70 million coronavirus vaccine doses worldwide when billions are needed.

The World Health Organization announced the world is at risk of "vaccine apartheid," and foreign policy expert Eyck Freymann told CBS News' Holly Williams the situation has left some of America's friends and allies helpless.

"They can see it in the headlines that Americans are taking off their masks and getting back to normal life, and yet their grandmother is getting sick because she couldn't get a vaccine," he said.

Freymann said that the country's change in mask guidance is "damaging the reputation of the developed world" and said it is "a failure of American leadership."

Dr. David Agus, CBS News medical contributor, said that if other countries don't vaccinate, they could create more COVID variants that are a danger to us all.

"It is a moral imperative. It is a scientific imperative that we vaccinate the globe not only to help other people but to protect us," he said.

Many nations are turning to America's rivals, giving them an opportunity to win hearts and minds.

While America has promised 80 million vaccine doses, according to monitoring groups, China and Russia have done deals to deliver around 600 million doses each globally — though there are questions about just how effective their vaccines really are.

Freymann said President Biden's announcement to deliver those 80 million doses is a small step in the right direction, and the U.S. can still turn this around.

"As it finishes vaccinating its own population, it's going to have hundreds of millions of extra doses to start exporting," he said.