April 27, 2021 -- The Biden administration announced Monday that the U.S. will send up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries, as long as federal regulators determine the doses are safe, according to The New York Times.
The announcement came after President Joe Biden spoke with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday about the surging pandemic and pledged to help.
“Given that AstraZeneca is not authorized for use in the United States, we do not need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against COVID over the next few months,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said during a news briefing.
The U.S. has faced growing pressure to share its vaccine supply with other countries that have seen surges in COVID-19 infections this spring. The Biden administration has been reluctant to ship vaccines elsewhere, so the shift in perspective likely shows confidence in the vaccine stockpile, Bloomberg News reported, particularly after vaccine sites resumed giving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot during the weekend.
The White House hasn’t yet decided which countries will receive vaccine doses, Bloomberg reported. About 10 million AstraZeneca doses that have already been produced could be exported in the next several weeks if they pass FDA checks, the news outlet said. Another 50 million are in production and could be shipped in May or June.
“I anticipate in the near future, our team will share more details about our planning and who will be receiving doses,” Psaki said. “But we’re in the planning process at this point.”
COVID-19 cases are on the rise in India, Brazil, and Turkey. On Monday, India broke the world record for daily infections for a fifth consecutive day with nearly 353,000 new cases. In addition to vaccine doses, the U.S. will supply India with oxygen equipment, therapeutics, raw materials used in vaccine production, rapid COVID-19 test kits, and personal protective gear.
More than 1.02 billion vaccine doses have been given worldwide, Bloomberg reported, and about 6.7% of the global population is considered fully vaccinated. The vaccine rollout has been uneven across countries, with wealthier countries ahead of less wealthy ones. About 36% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, the news outlet reported, as compared with 5.3% of India’s population.