Amid global pressure to help less developed countries fight the pandemic, the United States announced on Monday (26) that it would release up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in other countries – as soon as ‘they will be available.
However, according to White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, this will not happen immediately. “At the moment we do not have an available dose of AstraZeneca,” he said.
Psaki said about 10 million doses could be released “in the coming weeks” provided they go through a safety review by the US regulatory agency, the FDA. The remaining 50 million doses are still in different stages of production.
Joe Biden’s administration also did not specify which countries are listed to receive the doses.
The Brazilian government, which has been criticized for not speeding up vaccination, among other reasons for delays in the delivery of ready-to-use doses and supplies for manufacturing to the country, has not commented on the shipment of vaccines by the United States.
Brazil has consulted in the past on the possibility of receiving the surplus AstraZeneca in the United States, but the response was that the United States government would prioritize the vaccination of its own population.
In a statement, a spokesperson for AstraZeneca said the company would not comment on the details, but that “the doses are part of AstraZeneca’s supply commitments in the United States” and that the decision by AstraZeneca sending the vaccine to other countries is up to the US government.
The Biden administration is under increasing pressure from allies around the world to share the vaccine, especially that of AstraZeneca, which is used in Europe and other countries, but has yet to be approved in the United States. United States.
So far, the country has released vaccines from three manufacturers – Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The US vaccination campaign has applied over 230 million doses, and 27% of people are already vaccinated.
The announcement of the vaccine shipment came after the President called with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier Monday. According to a White House statement, the two leaders pledged to work together in the fight against Covid-19 in this Asian country, which is experiencing its worst pandemic moment and facing what could be the greatest tragedy in a world. country since the start of the crisis. sanitary.
There are hospitals that are collapsing, lacking beds and oxygen, and lines to cremate bodies. On Monday, India broke the 24-hour world record for the fifth day in a row – 353,000, according to official figures, which many believe are grossly underestimated.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the country has more than 17 million people infected and 195,123 dead.
Faced with the worsening health crisis, the United States announced on Sunday that it would send inputs for the production of vaccines, Covid-19 tests, drugs, mechanical respirators and personal protective equipment. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also confirmed that the bloc was preparing to send inputs and medicine to Indians.
There is, however, a possible logistical problem at the American level: the doses of AstraZeneca are produced in a plant in Baltimore, owned by Emerging BioSolutions, where production has been halted amid fears of contamination.
According to a New York Times report, the factory had to throw away millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine between October and January, then discard up to 15 million doses of the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, also due to concerns about contamination possible.
The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical immunizer, developed in partnership with the University of Oxford, has seen its safety questioned after reports of rare cases of blood clots being reported in Europe. European countries have come to suspend or restrict use.
The European Union regulatory agency (EMA), however, concluded that the vaccine’s benefits outweighed its potential risks and recommended that governments in the bloc retain the requests, adding a warning to the product package insert. .
In March, Biden previously said his administration would ship around 4 million units of AstraZeneca immunizer to Canada and Mexico – 1.5 million and 2.5 million doses, respectively.
From a political point of view, the sending of vaccines was seen as a way to stroke Mexico to tighten border controls with the United States, which is going through a serious migratory crisis and the greatest influx of immigrants in coming from Mexico for 20 years – although the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador says efforts to secure vaccines are independent of dialogues on migration.
But the United States is not alone in exerting “soft power” in vaccine geopolitics – rival China has also entered into partnerships and agreements for the production of vaccines abroad, with the aim of improve his image after trying to blame him. the pandemic and associations like “Chinese virus”.
During a virtual meeting between Joe Biden and Firsts Narendra Modi (India), Yoshihide Suga (Japan) and Scott Morrisson (Australia) last month, India asked the group to fund vaccine production using American technology ( Janssen and Novavax) in your territory. New Delhi manufactures AstraZeneca vaccines under license and has Covaxin, produced by pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech.
While there is no information on which countries will receive the US doses, sending aid to India and the conversation between Biden and Modi can also be seen as a way for the US to try to contain Beijing’s expansion.