U.S. govt diverting its own vaccine-making materials supply to India

Darnell Taylor
April 27, 2021

A senior administration official said later on Monday that there could be up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine available to be shared with other countries in the next two months, assuming the FDA issues an emergency use authorization for the vaccine.

"As part of the USA strategy to be ready for a range of scenarios, the United States has produced some AstraZeneca doses already".

The US will be providing raw material for the production of the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine (locally known as Covishield) to the Serum Institute of India.

It has since stated that its option for extra AstraZeneca doses will not be taken up.

Brazil's regular rejected importing Russian-made Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine.

Uganda has received 964,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the only one available in the country.

"We are looking at it", an official said in response to question from The Hindu but did not offer comment on the current position of the administration.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will offer technical assistance and materials to boost vaccine confidence and readiness in the country. "So, this is not immediate".

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca said the company could not comment on specific details of the distribution plan, but underscored that the doses "are part of AstraZeneca's supply commitments to the United States government".

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

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Countries such as the USA have been lining up in recent days to send medical supplies to India, but some fear it may not be enough to help halt the country's enormous second wave. Some of those doses have already been sent to Mexico and Canada as part of what the United States has referred to as a "loan". "And we're also closely coordinating with our allies, friends, and Quad partners about how we can collectively support India in its hour of need", the official said.

The spike brought the total number of cases in India to 17.3 million, second in the world only to the U.S. More than 195,000 people have died there as of Sunday, though public-health experts believe the death count is likely higher.

About 10 million of the doses are on hand but they are not ready for sending overseas as the FDA was still reviewing the plant where they were made, the official said.

But "vaccine diplomacy" has been sharply limited by concerns among Biden administration officials that unforeseen factors may necessitate a stockpile of doses, including requiring boosters, the spread of variants, and the still-uncertain nature of which vaccine works best among children.

Biden said in March that if there was a surplus of vaccines, "we're going to share it with the rest of the world".

Meanwhile, B.C. has administered first doses to 1,546,337 people to date, or about 36% of the eligible population (4.3 million British Columbians are presently eligible to be vaccinated while the province still considers immunization plans for those under 18).

'We have sufficient supply of vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to accomodate our needs in the U.S'.

The US temporarily paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine earlier this month while health authorities investigated reports of extremely rare blood clots following vaccination. "We've got to make sure they are safe to be sent".

This story was first published on CNNcom, "US to begin sharing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine doses soon".

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