By Salim Yunusa
The White House said as many as 16 million AstraZeneca doses could be made available to other countries in the next two months but didn’t identify recipients or say whether India would be among them.
The AstraZeneca vaccine hasn’t been authorized for use in the U.S. The White House said doses could still be exported to other countries once the Food and Drug Administration deems the vaccine has met certain “product quality” expectations as part of a continuing review by regulators of the plant where the vaccine is being manufactured in the U.S.
The Biden administration is making plans to share millions of doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and preparing a major effort to help India fight a resurgence of the virus, as calls mount for the U.S. to do more to assist developing countries in confronting the pandemic.
India’s hospitals have been overwhelmed, with beds and oxygen in short supply and crematoriums running out of space as the country recorded a million new cases in just three days. Reports and images of people dying on the pavement waiting for treatment have underscored the severity of the surge.
Mr. Biden and several other top officials in his administration didn’t issue public statements on the crisis until the weekend, drawing a backlash. On Sunday, the White House said it would send therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and protective gear to help India. On Monday, officials said they would also send the antiviral treatment remdesivir and deploy a team of U.S. public-health experts to India.
The administration stopped short of agreeing to donate vaccine supply, saying it would instead make available sources of raw materials to help India manufacture more vaccines.
The White House said Monday it would share as many as 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the rest of the world. U.S. officials also said they were exploring options to urgently dispatch oxygen and related supplies to India.
President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as India reported 352,991 new coronavirus cases on Monday, marking the fifth consecutive day the country set a global record for a single-day rise in infections.