US to Share Millions of AstraZeneca Doses With Other Countries

The Biden administration says it will begin exporting up to 60 million doses of the vaccine after a safety check by the Food and Drug Administration.

A medical staffer prepares a syringe from a vial of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine near Munich, Germany, last month. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FILE)

WASHINGTON (CN) — The White House announced on Monday that, following a safety review, the U.S. will make millions of stockpiled doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine available to the rest of the world. 

“Today we announced that the administration is looking at options to share American-made AstraZeneca vaccine doses during the next few months,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing on Monday. 

Up to 60 million doses are expected to soon be available for export. Psaki told reporters that 10 million doses could be released in the coming weeks if the Food and Drug Administration determines that the vaccine meets “our own bar and our own guidelines.” She added that another 50 million doses intended for donation to other countries are in production.

The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were all authorized for emergency use by the FDA, but the agency has not given the same approval to AstraZeneca’s. Last month, regulators raised concerns over possibly outdated data on the vaccine’s efficacy. 

The Biden administration indicated that the U.S. has an ample supply of the three FDA-approved vaccines, especially after use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot resumed over the weekend. 

The jab made by England-based AstraZeneca is widely used around the world, despite not yet getting the go-ahead by the FDA for emergency use in the U.S. Production of the doses in a Baltimore plant owned by Emergent BioSolutions was recently halted by the FDA amid fears of contamination. 

The White House did not specify on Monday which countries would receive the doses.

The announcement came shortly after a call between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, in which the two leaders committed to working “closely together in the fight against Covid-19.” India, the world’s second most populous nation with nearly 1.3 billion people, is in the midst of a frightening explosion of coronavirus infections.

Last month, the Biden administration decided to share 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with Mexico and Canada.

Canada’s health department said on Sunday that it reviewed doses of the vaccine imported from the Baltimore facility and found them to be safe and of good quality.

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