The US is preparing to release about 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for international distribution following a safety inspection by health regulators, the White House announced on Monday.
The Food and Drug Administration “will confirm any such doses meet its expectations for product quality” before they are distributed, spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
The doses represent the entire US stock of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which has not yet been granted emergency use approval in the country as the US rolls out other vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson and Johnson.
“Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the United States has already authorized and that is available in large quantities, including two two-dose vaccines and one one-dose vaccine, and given Astra Zeneca is not authorized for use in the United States we do not need to use Astra Zeneca in our fight against COVID over the next few months,” Psaki said.
To date, the US has administered about 230 million vaccine jabs, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
The White House did not specify which countries would be receiving the excess doses, but said the administration is currently mulling the question.
“We’re in the planning process at this point in time,” Psaki said.
The Biden administration freed up about 4 million AstraZeneca doses in March for Canada and Mexico, which like many countries around the world, previously approved the vaccine for use.
There have been over 147 million coronavirus infections, and more than 3.1 million related fatalities since the virus first emerged in China in 2019.