The White House announced Monday that the United States would soon share its entire stock of the one-dose AstraZeneca vaccine with countries that need the shots.
“Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the U.S. already has and that have been authorized by the FDA, and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not authorized for use in the U.S., we do not need to use the AstraZeneca vaccine here during the next several months,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said in a press conference. “Therefore the U.S. is looking at options to share the AstraZeneca doses with other countries as they become available.”
Already, 10 million AstraZeneca doses have been produced in the U.S. but have not received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration; some 50 million more are in various stages of production, and could be ready to ship as early as May or June. According to Zients, the U.S. has not yet determined which nations will receive its AstraZeneca supply once the shots pass a safety review. Though the shot is in wide use throughout the world, it has not been approved for use in the U.S., where regulators are concerned about “outdated information” in their trials. (In Europe, the vaccine was briefly paused over rare blood clots like those seen in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.)
Through two presidential administrations, the United States has focused on securing enough shots to vaccinate every American adult willing to get one. Now that the White House is confident that the supply of the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines is more than big enough to get the job done, the Biden administration has begun to cooperate with global vaccination efforts — but only after facing harsh criticism for hoarding doses. The day before the announcement of the AstraZeneca reallocation, the White House agreed to ship vaccine materials and other pandemic resources to India, which is facing an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases. Last month, the U.S. agreed to loan around 4 million AstraZeneca doses to Mexico and Canada.