The U.S. will share up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines with India and other nations, according to Biden administration officials.
The move comes after a call Monday morning between President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi.
“Our two nations have suffered a lot,” a senior administration official said at an afternoon briefing on the move to send oxygen, drugs and supplies to make vaccines to India. “We remember India’s generosity towards us at the beginning of the pandemic.”
The announcement reaches approximately 1 in 3 cases of COVID-19 recorded daily now in India. In April, the outbreak in India has recorded a record number of cases that overwhelmed hospitals and oxygen supplies. There are now about 2,500 deaths a day, generally considered insufficient 5 to 10 times higher.
National security officials from the Biden administration said the severe rise in cases in India and the continuing pandemic elsewhere justified the release of doses of gun supplies to the US. Planned supplies for other vaccines are expected to make shots available to all adults in the United States before June.
An AstraZeneca vaccine is licensed in India, but is still pending FDA approval in the US. The company has not even formally requested this authorization. The FDA will conduct a safety review of these features before they are shipped. There are currently 10 million doses available and another 50 million in production. The United States had previously lent 4 million shots of AstraZeneca in Mexico and Canada.
“In short, this is good news, but it’s been a long time,” said Lawrence Gostin, of the O’Neill Institute of National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. “What we do see, however, are two classes of vaccines: one for the developed world and one for the poor. AstraZeneca has not been licensed in the United States, so it can be given. But the United States is accumulating vaccines highly “As effective as mRNA, I hope the United States will start dosing its entire stockpile of vaccines. It’s ethically correct, but it’s also in our best interests.”
Administration officials said the United States will consider sharing more vaccines as U.S. supplies increase and the U.S. population is vaccinated.
Over the weekend, the European Union activated its medical assistance program to provide India with oxygen and medical supplies, while Singapore and Saudi Arabia have also sent oxygen. Russia has also said it will bring medical care to India. The White House announced on Sunday that it did sending fans and protective equipment in India.
Peter Aldhous contributed to this publication.