AstraZeneca PLC has encouraged President Joe Biden to consider sharing US-owned doses of its vaccine with the European Union, where countries face shortages of a shot that isn’t yet authorized for US use.
“We understand other governments may have reached out to the US government about donation of AstraZeneca doses, and we’ve asked the US government to give thoughtful consideration to these requests,” the company said in a statement. “If those donation actions were to proceed, we would seek guidance from the US government on replacement of doses for use in the US”
The US has ordered 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and the company has said it is already producing them on US soil. An AstraZeneca executive told CNBC last week that they expect to have 30 million doses ready to ship when the shot receives authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. The company hasn’t yet sought US regulatory review of its vaccine.
It’s not clear how many doses of the AstraZeneca shot exist in the US As of last week, two people familiar with the plans said they think it’s fewer than 10 million.
The US has ordered enough domestically made vaccines to immunize its adult population twice over, raising pressure on Biden from other countries to begin assisting vaccination efforts elsewhere.
His administration has ordered enough doses from the three manufacturers with FDA authorization — Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson — to fully vaccinate 500 million people, more than the country’s population.
AstraZeneca, if authorized, would expand the US supply to cover 650 million people.
Biden’s team hasn’t said whether it has allowed any vaccine exports so far. Europe, meanwhile, has been exporting doses to countries that don’t have their own production, including almost a million shots to the US, according to a document revealed earlier this week.
Jeff Zients, Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator, was asked about AstraZeneca at a press briefing Friday and said the government is holding the doses in advance of a potential authorization.
“We have a small inventory of AstraZeneca so that, if approved, we can get that inventory out to the American people as quickly as possible,” he said. He cited a commitment of as much as $4 billion to Covax, a global program to help fund and procure vaccines for lower-income nations.
“We’re rightly focused on getting Americans vaccinated as soon as possible,” Zients said. “We know this is a global pandemic and the virus has no borders, that’s why the president is providing, the United States is providing, the most funding of any country to Covax.”
The Biden administration has said it needs more doses than it has people to account for uncertainty about which shots work for children, and whether a new round of booster shots might be needed to combat variants of the virus.
“If we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world,” Biden said Wednesday. “We’re going to start off making sure Americans are taken care of, first, but we’re then going to try to help the rest of the world.”
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.