The United States plans to send roughly 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that it is not using to Canada and Mexico through loan deals with the two countries, the White House confirmed today.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that a number of countries, including Canada and Mexico, have asked the U.S. for doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but those loan deals are still being worked out.
Psaki confirmed today that the U.S. has “seven million releasable doses” of the AstraZeneca vaccine “available.”
“2.5 million of those, we are working to finalize plans to lend those to Mexico, and 1.5 million to Canada,” she said.
“It’s not fully finalized yet. It’s our aim and what we’re working toward, to Canada and Mexico. It’s a complex process and our team is working with the companies to move it forward.”
“This virus has no borders,” a U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity earlier in the day. “We only put the virus behind us if we’re helping our global partners.”
The “releasable” vaccines are ready to be used once they arrive, Reuters reported. Under the deal, the United States will share doses with Mexico and Canada now — with the understanding that they will send the United States doses in return. The official said that would take place later this year.
The Biden administration has come under pressure from allies worldwide to share vaccine doses — particularly the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is authorized for use in other countries but not yet cleared for use in the United States.
AstraZeneca has millions of doses made in a U.S. facility and has said that it would have 30 million shots ready at the beginning of April.
The deal does not affect President Joe Biden’s plan to have vaccine doses available for all adults in the United States by the end of May, an official told Reuters. The deal is likely to be announced publicly in the coming days.
Two officials said the vaccine would be delivered in “short order” once the deal was completed, but they declined to give a more specific timetable.
The Associated Press also quoted an unnamed official saying that a loan deal for 2.5 million doses to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada is in the works.
U.K. clears AstraZeneca
News of the loan deal comes as the United Kingdom’s drug regulator reports that a “rigorous scientific review” has ruled out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as the cause of blood clots in veins. The regulator is doing a more detailed study looking at blood clots in the brain.
The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any risks.
Health Canada officials are attending a meeting of the European Medicines Agency, which is set to issue a report on blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine today.
Many European countries halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports of blood clots in about three dozen patients.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Canada is monitoring all the evidence closely.
Health Canada has said the vaccine’s benefits are strong and it has not seen evidence to link the vaccine to blood clots.