Astrazeneca has called on the US President to consider sharing doses with the European Union (EU) amid shortages in the bloc.
Just 8.5 per cent of EU citizens have received their first dose of a vaccine so far, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
There has been an ongoing row between the EU and vaccine manufacturers, including Astrazeneca, for pulling agreed orders. Last week Italy announced it had blocked the shipment of 250,000 doses of the Astrazeneca jab to Australia after the manufacturer failed to meet its contractual commitments.
Since then the EU said it would urge the US to permit the export of millions of Astrazeneca jabs to Europe. This morning it announced it had extended export controls on Covid vaccines until the end of June as it looks to boost its vaccine programme.
“We understand other governments may have reached out to the US government about donation of Astrazeneca doses, and we’ve asked the US government to give consideration to these requests,” Astrazeneca said today.
“If those actions were to proceed, we would seek guidance from the US government on replacement of doses for use in the US.”
The US has ordered 300m Astrazeneca doses and is reported to have started production despite not yet granting approval for the vaccine.
This evening the White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said the US has a “small inventory of Astrazeneca so, if approved, we can get that inventory out to the American people”.
“We’re rightly focused on getting Americans vaccinated as soon as possible. We know this is a global pandemic and the virus has no borders, that’s why the president is providing, the United States is providing, the must funding of any country to Covax.”
While Biden’s team has yet to formally approve vaccine exports, earlier this week the president said: “If we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world”.