The first doses of COVID-19 shots made in the United States by Pfizer were shipped to Mexico as pressure on the U.S. increased to help other countries.
The shipment of Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico this week includes doses made at the U.S. plant, the first of which is expected to be ongoing exports of its shots from the U.S., according to a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. agency.
The vaccine shipment, produced at Pfizer’s Kalfazo plant in the state of Michigan, is the first time the drug manufacturer has delivered overseas from U.S. facilities after the restriction on Trump-era dose exports will expire in late March, the source reported Thursday.
The U.S. government has been under increasing pressure in recent weeks to provide surplus vaccines to other nations that desperately need it, as it moves quickly by vaccinating its own residents. Many countries where the virus continues to spread have difficulty acquiring vaccine supplies to help tame the pandemic.
Wealthy governments have tried to stock up on COfID-19 shots from Pfizer and Moderna Inc. for their very high efficiency and after safety and production issues, they temporarily set aside vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson .
Pfizer has shipped more than 10 million doses to Mexico so far, becoming its largest supplier of COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE have supplied doses to other countries from its main European production plant in Belgium.
Mexico’s health ministry said it will receive two million doses of Pfizer this week. Since Wednesday it has received more than a million doses from Belgium and expects about a million more this week. Reuters could not confirm whether all remaining doses of Pfizer would come from Michigan.
Pfizer will use additional capacity at its U.S. facilities to deliver shots overseas, while continuing to maintain its commitment to supply the U.S., the source said, adding that the drug manufacturer will also make shipments from Belgium.
Pfizer has said it will make up to 25 million shots each week in the U.S. by the middle of the year, which exceeds what it needs to meet its commitment to deliver 300 million doses to the U.S. by the end of July.
The company expects to produce up to 2.5 billion doses of vaccine by 2021 and already has agreements to supply more than a billion to governments around the world.
An agreement Pfizer signed with the White House last year had banned him from sending doses made in the United States to other countries until after March 31, according to the source and a U.S. official, who declined to be appointed because he was not allowed to speak to the media.
The U.S. vaccination campaign has been one of the fastest and most successful in the world, with nearly 240 million shots administered to more than 140 million residents to date, according to federal data updated Thursday.
The White House said Monday it would export up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine that have been made at a U.S. facility to countries in need.
Officials said Monday that the United States no longer anticipates the need for the AstraZeneca vaccine to achieve its goal of having enough shots for all Americans during the summer in the northern hemisphere.
The US government said on Sunday that it would immediately send raw materials for COVID-19 vaccines, medical equipment and protective equipment to India, which has become the latest epicenter of the pandemic with its health system. on the verge of collapse. It has not yet promised shipments of finished vaccines to India.