US Vaccine Diplomacy: Washington To Export 60 Million Doses Overseas

Vaccines will be sent after federal review of AstraZeneca’s safety and efficacy in the coming weeks.

The United States will send up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine overseas. According to the BBC, the vaccines will be shipped after the conclusion of federal studies on their safety. The U.S. has a significant supply of AstraZeneca despite the vaccine’s lack of approval for domestic use thus far.

The COVID-19 catastrophe in India has forced President Joe Biden to put the U.S.’s vaccine surplus to good use. Biden has promised to send 4 million AstraZeneca doses to Mexico and Canada, countries in which the brand is already approved for use.

Vaccine Abundance

This past Monday, a White House spokesman said that 10 million AstraZeneca doses will be ready for export as soon as the Food and Drug Administration concludes its review in the coming weeks. Another 50 million doses are in production.

U.S. regulators have approved three COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Experts believe that these will be sufficient for U.S. needs and that AstraZeneca shots will not be needed.

“The US handling of the coronavirus pandemic has had plenty of shortcomings, but vaccine production isn’t one of them. The Biden administration has an abundance of jabs, and now it is sharing some of that bounty with other countries,” concludes a BBC analysis. Additionally, this decision will allow for the practice of “vaccine diplomacy” that may build good will and nudge other countries toward positions that are closer to America’s foreign policy priorities. Finally, the U.S. president will have an answer for those alleging that the U.S. has turned its back on the world by hoarding millions of surplus vaccine doses while the rest of the world suffers.

Emergency Service to India

The U.S. will send raw materials needed for vaccine production to support India’s fight with its devastating COVID-19 crisis. Biden has spoken with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has promised emergency delivery of oxygen, tests, protective equipment and drugs.

Modi’s government has been criticized for a policy that has led to Indian regions and private buyers having to pay higher prices for hard-to-find vaccines. India will include everyone above 18 in its immunization program, but vaccine producers will be able to raise their prices significantly, writes the Financial Times. The Indian central government will continue to buy half of the monthly vaccine needs of those over 45. But individual buyers and Indian states will have to buy vaccines for younger people through higher prices set by vaccine manufacturers.

Serum Institute, the company producing the AstraZeneca vaccine, has said that Indian state governments will pay $5.35 per vaccine and private hospitals $8, while by comparison, the central Indian government will pay only $2 per dose.

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