U.S. looking to loan AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses to Canada and Mexico
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Thursday the U.S. is looking to "loan" a total of 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada and Mexico — 2.5 million to Mexico and 1.5 to Canada.
Psaki said the U.S. has 7 million "releasable" doses of the vaccine, which has yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but has been approved by other countries. In the past, Psaki has responded to questions about why the U.S. is holding onto the AstraZeneca vaccine doses by saying the Biden administration is prioritizing vaccinating Americans.
The pandemic, Psaki said, "knows no borders." Canada and Mexico are not the only countries that have requested the United States' AstraZeneca doses. Europe has as well.
"We are assessing how we can loan doses," Psaki told reporters during the White House briefing. "It's not — we are, that is our aim. It's not fully finalized yet, but that is our aim and what we're working toward, to Canada and Mexico. This is a complex process and our team is working with the companies to move it forward. And I want to, on your question about the number of doses, there have been a range of reports about the number of doses. I can confirm that we have 7 million releasable doses available of AstraZeneca, and ... 2.5 million of those we are working to finalize plans to lend those to Mexico, and 1.5 million to Canada."
Psaki said the loan could be repaid with future AstraZeneca doses or potentially "other" doses. AstraZeneca is a British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biotech company that is headquartered in England.
Meanwhile, some European countries are suspending use of the vaccine as a precautionary measure following reports of blood clots, although no connection has been proven.
An AstraZeneca executive told CBS News earlier this month that the company plans to file for emergency use authorization to the FDA in the coming weeks.
"In the first months after the [authorization], we're planning to deliver roughly 50 million doses instantly to Americans," Ruud Dobber, executive vice president at AstraZeneca, told CBSN earlier this month.
The U.S. already has three vaccines with high efficacy rates from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, and President Biden says enough vaccines will be available to cover the entire adult population by the end of May. It will take longer to administer those doses. May 1 is also when Mr. Biden has encouraged states to allow all adults to be eligible for the vaccine.
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