For all of these reasons, senior officials say, the government tends to stick with the doses it has ordered in order to at some point pass the surplus to other nations in bilateral deals or to give it to Covax, an international nonprofit supported by the World Health Organization tries to coordinate a fair distribution of the vaccine. The Biden government has already donated $ 4 billion to this international effort.
Mr Biden has stressed that his top priority is protecting Americans, but pressure to share US stocks is mounting. The United States has ordered a billion doses from the three federally approved manufacturers and AstraZeneca, whose vaccine has not yet been approved for emergency use in the United States but has been approved in more than 70 countries. It was recently announced that Johnson & Johnson is negotiating sufficient doses for an additional $ 100 million.
Taken together, the supply would be enough to vaccinate 650 million people – almost double the US population. With the world’s highest death toll from Covid-19, the US has 14 percent of its population fully vaccinated.
Last week, the White House announced it would share four million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine with Mexico and Canada, but insisted that Americans would not lose as the vaccine has not yet been used here.
That’s a trickle compared to the 300 million AstraZeneca cans the federal government ordered, enough to feed 150 million people on the two-dose regime. Senior administrators say tens of millions of these cans may be released now or immediately, and possibly tens of millions of unfilled cans could also be dispensed.
Brazil is particularly helpful. With more than 300,000 fatalities, the country has the second highest death toll and fully vaccinated less than 2 percent of its population.
“Having dealt with the really difficult situation in our own country with over 535,000 deaths, we will obviously have an excess vaccine in the future, and there is certainly a consideration of making this vaccine available to countries that need it”, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s foremost infectious disease expert, at a news conference at the White House on Wednesday.