— Health

US to share up to 60 million COVID-19 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine amid hoarding accusations

The United States will release up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, a senior official said Monday, following mounting criticism that the Biden administration was hoarding shots. In comparison, other countries suffered. “US to release 60 million Astra Zeneca doses to other countries as they become available,” tweeted Andy Slavitt, senior advisor to the White House on COVID response.

It was not immediately clear how many doses were ready to be shipped or where they would go, with Mr. Slavitt adding, “At this time, there are still very few available.”

But President Joe Biden held a telephone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, pledging his country’s “steadfast support for the people of India who the recent surge in COVID-19 cases has impacted.” The United States “is providing a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics,” Mr. Biden told Modi, according to a statement.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that the Food and Drug Administration would perform quality checks on doses before being sent abroad.

“Our team will share more details about our planning and who will be receiving offers from here, but we’re in the planning process at this point,” she added.

President Joe Biden’s government has been pressured to lift restrictions on exporting vaccines and vaccine supplies as countries like India experience massive surges. In contrast, US supply appears increasingly assured, and domestic demand begins to taper off.

COVID-19 cases declining

The move dramatically expands an action from last month to loan four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet approved in the United States and may never be, to Mexico and Canada.

Almost 140 million people in the US have now received one dose – 42 percent of the population – or 53 percent of the adult population.

The rate of new COVID cases is declining, and a month-long mini spike now appears over.

Lucy Delgado, Healthcare Network RN, vaccinates Polonne Colin at the Florida Department of Health in Immokalee.

USA Today Network/Sipa USA

Pfizer and Moderna appear on track to deliver 600 million doses between them by the end of July.

The United States has also resumed vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson shot, the third authorized injection, after a brief pause over links to a rare form of clotting.

Ashish Jha, dean of the School of public health at Brown University, said one of the main hurdles to sending AstraZeneca doses abroad was legal liability since the original contracts were formulated between the company and the United States.

“There may be some adverse events, and there may even be events that are not related to the vaccine,” he said during a webinar, adding the maker was worried about legal cases without the indemnity it enjoys in the US.

“These are solvable in my mind by India, offering indemnity and protection to AstraZeneca,” he added.

But he predicted the issue might be politically sensitive in India if the AstraZeneca vaccine comes to be viewed as a second-tier or “discarded” shot.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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