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U.S. to distribute vaccines based on requests as Biden administration looks to beef up international response

The Biden administration announced Tuesday the federal government will only distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses based on states’ requests going forward, replacing the current system of automatically allocating doses to states based on population.

The move comes amid slowing demand for vaccines in the United States as more Americans are getting their shots. The Biden administration on Tuesday announced 50 percent of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated.

The new system is meant to cut down on waste while allowing federal officials to redirect vaccines to where they’re needed, according to a senior White House official. That includes sending vaccines abroad as the Biden White House looks to increase its international coronavirus response effort, the official added.

Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, notified governors of the new allocation on a call Tuesday. Biden has put Zients in charge of leading the administration’s global pandemic response. Zients and his team are working to assess how many doses the U.S. can contribute while still reserving vaccines for unvaccinated adults and newly eligible 12 to 15 year olds.

President Biden has been criticized for not sending more vaccine doses abroad, as dozens of countries are still struggling to secure vaccine supplies while cases are skyrocketing in places like India and Brazil. Biden announced earlier this month the U.S. will send 20 million U.S.-approved doses to other countries, in addition to his previous commitment of 60 million AstraZeneca doses to aid the global fight. Biden has previously committed $4 billion for a global program to provide vaccine access for low-income countries, known as Covax.

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