The United States will share 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine with other countries as coronavirus cases continue to spike worldwide, a top U.S. official said Monday.
Andy Slavitt, a senior advisor to President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response team, said the U.S. government will share the AstraZeneca shots as they become available. The Food and Drug Administration has not yet authorized the vaccine for use in the U.S.
The U.S. will not distribute any doses of the vaccine unless they meet the FDA’s expectations for “product quality,” senior administration officials told reporters during a press briefing Monday.
The administration expects the U.S. could release 10 million doses of the vaccine “in the coming weeks,” pending FDA clearance, one official said. An additional 50 million doses could be distributed in May and June, the official said.
“As part of the U.S. strategy to be ready for a range of scenarios, the United States has produced some AstraZeneca doses already,” the official said. “Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the United States already has, as I mentioned, and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not approved for use in the U.S., we do not need to use AstraZeneca vaccine here during the next few months.”
The move comes as state and local health officials say Covid vaccine supply is beginning to outpace demand in some regions of the U.S.
More than 139 million Americans, or 42.2% of the total U.S. population, have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 94.7 million people, or 28.5% of the population, are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
The rate of Covid vaccinations in the U.S. slid over the weekend, according to CDC data. The seven-day average of daily shots reported administered fell to 2.8 million on Sunday, the lowest level since late March.
U.S. health officials say the nation does not need the AstraZeneca vaccine to meet its goal of having enough doses for all U.S. adults by the end of May.
Biden previously said he expected the U.S. to share its surplus of vaccine doses with other countries. China and Russia have also shared vaccines with other countries.
A day earlier, the Biden administration said it would immediately make raw materials needed for India’s coronavirus vaccine production available as the country works to counter a surge of Covid-19 infections.
Over the past seven days, India has reported an average of about 321,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, up 50% from a week ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The country is averaging about 2,300 Covid deaths per day, according to the Hopkins data. Media reports indicate the official figure is being understated.
Cases are also surging worldwide. The World Health Organization said earlier this month the number of new Covid-19 cases per week has nearly doubled over the past two months, pushing global infections toward their highest level in the pandemic.
The WHO has urged wealthier nations, such as the U.S., to donate vaccines to poorer or developing countries