Washington DC [US], July 10 (ANI): Looking to kill two birds with one stone, the United States is increasing the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to Latin American countries to address the region's health plight and curtail China's bid to exert its influence through vaccine exports.
President Joe Biden last month had said the United States will be the "arsenal of vaccines" to combat coronavirus, as he had announced that Washington's donation of 500 million doses of "no strings attached" vaccines, for the fight against the pandemic.
Currently, the US is planning to export up to 80 million vaccines to other countries, which includes a significant portion to Central and South America. According to Foreign Policy magazine, these recent announcements indicate that the US is turning a corner in vaccine diplomacy in Latin America after an initial ahead start by Russia and China.
Juan Gonzalez, a senior director on the White House National Security Council said: "All in, when you look at what the United States has been sharing, Latin America has been by far the largest beneficiary. And this is just the beginning."
He said the Biden administration's top priority is addressing the public health crisis as a new coronavirus outbreak pummels countries across Latin America.
Observers in the region believe that there's a geopolitical element to vaccine deliveries as the US looks to compete with Russia and China's global vaccine response.
Pepe Zhang, an associate director at the Atlantic Council refuses to see it as a zero-sum game. "...but that doesn't mean the vaccine diplomacy itself doesn't have geopolitical or foreign-policy implications," said
"If Chinese vaccines are the only available solution in one country, that potentially puts China in a position to pursue additional interests or priorities."
According to the Foreign Policy report, western officials have already accused both Moscow and Beijing of using vaccines for geopolitical leverage.
Some countries including Paraguay and Honduras, have faced significant pressure to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in exchange for receiving Chinese-made vaccines. While a few countries resisted the pressure, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Panama couldn't. (ANI)