President Biden on Thursday offered his condolences to Queen Elizabeth II on what would have been the 100th birthday of her husband, Prince Philip, who died in April.
Biden made the public comments — ahead of his announcement that the US is providing 500 million doses of COVID vaccine — after a meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his first trip abroad as president. Biden is scheduled to meet with the Queen on Sunday.
“I want to express our condolences on behalf of Jill and I, to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, the entire royal family and the people of the United Kingdom,” Biden said. “Today would have been Prince Philip’s 100th birthday. I know there are a lot of people feeling his absence today.”
The Queen will host Biden and first lady Jill Biden at Windsor Castle before Biden departs for Belgium, where he will attend a NATO summit. The UK was the first stop of his trip due to a G-7 summit in Cornwall.
Biden also touted his plan to buy 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to gift to other countries — saying that the US would not seek to forge geopolitical alliances through vaccine diplomacy, as China and Russia have done with countries.
“The United States will purchase a half a billion doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to donate to nearly 100 nations that are in dire need in the fight against this pandemic,” Biden said.
“Importantly, this is the mRNA vaccine, which is proven to be extremely effective against COVID-19 and every known variant of that virus thus far.”
Biden said that “200 million of these doses will be delivered this year, 2021, and 300 million more will be delivered in the first half of 2022.” He said the doses would be manufactured in the US.
Vaccines from China, where the pandemic-causing virus first emerged, have been distributed to countries across Latin America and the developing world but have shown low efficacy, leaving some of the most-vaccinated countries in the world, including Chile and the Seychelles, still with high rates of infection.
“Just as with the 80 million doses we previously announced, the United States is providing these half-billion doses with no strings attached,” Biden said.
“Let me say it again, with no strings attached. Our vaccine donations don’t include pressure for favors or potential concessions. We’re doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic. That’s it. Period.”