Speaking to reporters on Monday, she said as many as 60 million doses are expected to become available for export within the next two months.
The move greatly expands on the Biden administration’s action last month to share about 4 million doses of the vaccine with Canada and Mexico. However, the number of AstraZeneca doses each country will now be allotted is unclear, as is the expected delivery date.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is widely in use around the world but not yet authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Given that AstraZeneca is not authorized for use in the United States, we do not need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against COVID over the next few months,” Psaki said.
“We’re going to assess a range of requests for a range of needs around the world.”
Before the vaccines can be shipped to other countries, Psaki said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be reviewing the quality of the doses to make sure they meet U.S. expectations.
She added that 10 million doses could be released “in the coming weeks,” pending FDA quality approval. Fifty million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine currently undergoing various stages of production, could be available to ship by May and June, pending a sign-off from the FDA.
The move comes as the White House is increasingly assured about the supply of the three vaccines being administered in the U.S., particularly following the restart of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot over the weekend.
According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 3.1 million people worldwide have died of COVID-19, while over 147 million have fallen ill. Health officials have detected almost 1.2 million cases of the virus in Canada and 23,997 deaths.
The U.S. has yet to finalize where the AstraZeneca doses will go, White House COVID-19 co-ordinator Jeff Zients said. Canada and Mexico have asked the Biden administration to share more doses, while dozens of other countries are looking to access supplies of the vaccine.
The U.S. has in the past announced its plans to share doses with Canada.
On March 18, the U.S. government said it would send 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Canada.
Canadian procurement minister Anita Anand said it was because of Canada’s “very strong relationship” with the U.S. that the country was able to secure the exchange agreement.
“We are continuing to negotiate on that basis with the U.S. in terms of the possibility of additional doses crossing this border,” she said.
The doses will be donated by the U.S. government, which has contracted with the company for a total of 300 million doses — though the company has faced production issues.
AstraZeneca’s doses in the U.S. were produced at an Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore that has come under increased regulatory and public scrutiny after botching batches of the J&J vaccine.
The U.S. pressed J&J to take over the plant and, as part of the effort to ensure the quality of newly produced vaccines, directed the facility to stop making the AstraZeneca shot. AstraZeneca is still looking to identify a new U.S. production facility for its future doses.
On Sunday, Health Canada confirmed to Global News that the AstraZeneca vaccines set for Canada under investigation at the Baltimore plants were all safe and of “high quality.”
“Canadians can be assured that Health Canada is taking all necessary steps to ensure that any products coming from this facility will only be used if they are safe and effective,” the statement read.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine was initially expected to be the first to receive federal emergency authorization, and the U.S. government ordered enough for 150 million Americans before issues with the vaccine’s clinical trial held up clearance.
The company’s 30,000-person U.S. trial didn’t complete enrolment until January, and it has still not filed for an emergency use authorization with the FDA.
Anand said Canada is expected receive between 48 to 50 million vaccine doses from authorized developers Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca by the end of June.
Anand called the expected doses a “testament to that aggressive strategy that we have consistently produced and brought to the table” on Friday, adding that the federal government “will stop at nothing to ensure that the health and safety of Canadians is protected.”
— with files from the Associated PressView link »