US to share up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The United States has announced plans to share its stock of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines with other countries, amid growing pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to support global vaccine equity.

The White House said on Monday that as many as 60 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses could be available for export in the coming months but it did not say where exactly those vaccines would be distributed.

“Right now we have zero doses available of AstraZeneca,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who noted that US regulators still need to review the quality of the vaccines already produced.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet authorised AstraZeneca’s vaccine for use in the US, which has recorded the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the world.

“The US’ decision to donate AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines is an important and welcomed step towards increasing equitable access worldwide,” Dr Carrie Teicher, director of programs at MSF-USA, said in a statement.

“Getting these 60 million doses off the shelves and into arms as soon as possible will directly protect 30 million people from contracting COVID-19.

“But this is only one step the US government should take. The US must now transfer all of its surplus vaccine doses – not just those made by AstraZeneca – to COVAX and boost production globally so more vaccines can be manufactured in more places.”

Psaki said as many as 10 million AstraZeneca doses could be cleared for export “in coming weeks”, while about 50 million more doses are being produced and could be shipped in May and June.

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