WASHINGTON — The U.S. plans to ship its stockpile of millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses overseas, a move aimed at helping other countries struggling with a lack of dose to vaccinate their populations.
White House Covid-19 Advisor Andy Slavitt said in a tweet Monday that 60 million doses of the vaccine would be sent to other countries “as soon as they become available.”
The decision comes as the pandemic has spiked in India, where thousands are dying daily as the nation’s stressed hospital system struggles to treat the virus.
Public health officials, lawmakers and world leaders have been urging the U.S. to release some of its stockpile of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries that have cleared it for use while American reviews of safety and efficacy data continue. Slavitt didn’t say what countries the vaccine doses would be going to.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has suffered from delays after “very rare” incidents of blood clots and questions over the data the company submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.
The Biden administration had said it would wait to share significant numbers of its doses with other countries until it had ensured enough supply for Americans. But in recent days, administration officials have said they are confident they will have enough doses of the Pfizer and Modern vaccines to vaccinate every U.S. adult who wants one. The two companies have agreed to supply a total of 600 million doses by the end of July.
Use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine restarted this week after a pause to study a rare side effect of blood clots.
At the same time, the U.S. rate of vaccinations has declined over the past week and administration officials have said supply currently outstrips the demand.
The U.S. has already committed to sharing 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with Canada and Mexico.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., who sits on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, said the U.S. has more than 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in its stockpile.
“We cannot allow these vaccine doses to go unused, we should send them abroad where they can be used and they can save lives, right now,” Krishnamoorthi said on MSNBC. He said he has reached out to the Biden administration but hasn’t heard back.