The Biden administration on Monday announced further plans for sharing coronavirus vaccines with the world, but it will no longer immediately send doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine following problems at a production plant.
The administration detailed plans for sharing 55 million doses with other countries, which will come entirely from the U.S. supply of three vaccines the FDA has cleared for emergency use, according to an administration official. Earlier this month, the administration said the first 25 million doses it would donate abroad also would come from the U.S. supply of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The announcement marks a reversal of the Biden administration’s original plans to share 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which has not yet been cleared for use in the U.S. However, the FDA is still reviewing whether AstraZeneca doses produced at a Baltimore plant are safe to send abroad, and the country meanwhile has built up a steady supply of other vaccines used in the U.S. inoculation campaign.
Where the doses are going: Most will be sent to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Similar to the previously announced donation, about three-quarters of doses are being directed to COVAX, the global vaccine equity effort, and the administration is sending the rest to specific countries.
Of those going through COVAX, 14 million shots will go to Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti, as well as the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Costa Rica. About 16 million will head to Asian countries, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Maldives, Taiwan and Cambodia. Another 10 million will be shared with Africa in coordination with the African Union.
The U.S. is sending 14 million doses to countries that the White House called “regional priorities,” including Colombia, Argentina, Haiti, Afghanistan, South Africa, Nigeria, the West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Georgia, Moldova and Bosnia.
The Biden administration didn’t say when the doses will start shipping. Of the 25 million doses previously announced for donation almost three weeks ago, about 5 million have been shipped to Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan.
The administration official said the U.S. still plans to send AstraZeneca vaccines abroad once they’ve been cleared.
Why it matters: The U.S. has ramped up its vaccine sharing with the rest of the world, as many poor countries are fighting new coronavirus waves, some of them triggered by the highly contagious Delta variant first identified in India. President Joe Biden has promised that the U.S. will be the vaccine arsenal for the world to help end the pandemic, though poorer countries have pressed the U.S. and other wealthy nations to do more as they struggle to secure vaccines.