United States to share AstraZeneca vaccine stockpile with the world

Brenda Watkins
April 27, 2021

Both Canada and Mexico have asked the Biden administration to share more doses, while dozens of other countries are looking to access supplies of the vaccine.

The US will start to share up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine with other countries as soon as the next few weeks, the White House said.

'We are sitting on 35-40 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine Americans will never use, ' Dr Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, wrote on Twitter last week.

Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on Monday.

During a news briefing on Tuesday, Andy Slavitt, the White House senior COVID-19 advisor, addressed a report stating that the country will be shipping 60 million doses to countries like India over the next two months.

At a briefing for a select group of media, a senior USA administration official said early Tuesday there are "no AstraZeneca doses that have completed and cleared that process to be sent to other countries".

The US has tens of millions of AstraZeneca vaccines stockpiled but none have been used because it has not yet been granted emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration. "Further, there's an estimated additional 50 million doses that are in various stages of production, and these could be completed in stages across May and June", he said.

The official said that since President Joe Biden's administration did not have the power to force USA companies to fill the order from the Serum Institute of India, it was instead sending to India what had been contracted to it.

A health worker prepares a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

"We're in the planning process at this point", Psaki said.

So far, almost 54% of adults in the US have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to data published Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend a US -led climate change summit this week at the invitation of President Joe Biden . Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 23, 2020.

Still, the vaccination campaign has been uneven, with wealthier countries generally ahead of less wealthy ones in giving shots. Less than 2% of the population are fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Asked to respond to criticism that the USA was late in responding to the crisis in India, Ms. Psaki pointed to the U.S.'s own challenge with the pandemic, the assistance the US had offered to India over the weekend and US assistance globally. The country recorded 352,991 new virus cases on Sunday, the fifth consecutive day it set a world record for a single-day increase in Covid-19 infections.

More than 3 million people worldwide have died of COVID-19, including more than 572,000 in the US. The Hindu has reached out to the Indian Embassy for comment on why ready-to-use vaccines were not on the list of requests for USA assistance.

She said the deal would ensure doses for booster shots, vaccines adapted to new variants, and, potentially, vaccines for children and teenagers.

"But the scale of the response should match the scale of the crisis, and we call on the administration to do more". The Department of Defense and the US Agency for International Development are pursuing options to provide oxygen generation systems and working on the oxygen supply chain.

AstraZeneca's doses in the US were produced at an Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore that has come under increased regulatory and public scrutiny after botching batches of the J&J vaccine. "As the U.S. has done in the past, it must lead in this time of crisis and send immediate relief to India", he said.

The US government, which has contracted with AstraZeneca for a total of 300 million doses, will donate the doses - though the company has faced production issues.

A senior United States official has said that the government was diverting its own supply of Covid-19 vaccine-manufacturing materials to India "as the most effective and rapid step" to help it.

Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General, said in a tweet Monday: "U.S. announces plan to share AstraZeneca #COVID19 vaccine doses with the world".

Meera Shankar, also a former Indian envoy to Washington, said while the response from the USA can be seen as a delay, India also lacked preparedness and "declared victory over Covid when the numbers were still relatively higher".

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