The U.S. Is Sitting on Tens of Hundreds of thousands of Vaccine Doses the World Wants
“If we have a surplus, we’ll share it with the rest of the world,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday, speaking generally about US vaccine supplies. “We will first make sure that the Americans are taken care of first.”
Johnson & Johnson, which has US approval for its vaccine but has missed its production targets in both the US and Europe, recently asked the US to loan 10 million doses to the European Union, but the Biden administration did this also denied this request to American and European officials.
What you need to know about the vaccine rollout
The European Union has been heavily criticized for “vaccine nationalism” and protectionism, which escalated last week when Italy blocked a small dose delivery to Australia and intensified a tug-of-war over much-needed shots. Still, the European Union has exported 34 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to dozens of countries in the past few weeks despite shortages at home.
As frustrations subside, some European officials blame the United States. European Council President Charles Michel said the United States and Britain had “imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components made on their territory”. White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked Thursday about American delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine, telling reporters that vaccine makers are free to export their US-made products while fulfilling the terms of their contracts with the government .
Since the vaccine was manufactured by AstraZeneca under the Defense Production Act, Mr Biden must approve the delivery of cans overseas. Such a move could have a huge negative political impact while Americans are still calling for gunfire.
AstraZeneca is also likely to want liability protection for cans shipped overseas, as it would in the US if the vaccine were approved.
In the meantime, regulators in the US have been waiting for new AstraZeneca data, which is expected in the next few weeks from a Phase 3 study that enrolled 32,000 participants, mostly in the US. AstraZeneca is unlikely to report results from an early look at its data like other vaccine manufacturers have. Instead, it will wait for more statistically significant results after study participants have been monitored for side effects longer and potentially more people in the vaccine and placebo groups have gotten sick, federal officials said. Experts believe the vaccine is unlikely to be any more potent than the Johnson & Johnson shot, which uses similar technology and only requires one dose.