US to send millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Mexico, Canada

Coronavirus Vaccine

A health professional holds a syringe at the Woluwe-Saint-Pierre vaccination center, which is primarily administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, on March 18, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is one of the rare European countries that continues inoculations against Covid-19 with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, after more than 15 nations suspended it. (Photo by Jean-Christophe Guillaume/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The U.S. is planning to send a combined 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico and Canada in its first export of shots.

A White House official confirmed Thursday that the Biden administration is planning to send 2.5 million doses to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada as a “loan.” The details are still being worked out.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has not been authorized for use in the U.S. but has been by the World Health Organization. Tens of millions of doses have been stockpiled in the U.S. should it receive emergency use authorization, sparking an international outcry that lifesaving doses could not be used overseas.

The White House has said President Joe Biden’s priority is the vaccination of all Americans, but the official said Biden was authorizing the loan because the “virus knows no borders.”

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the transaction before it was officially announced.

AstraZeneca has millions of doses made in a U.S. facility, and has said that it would have 30 million shots ready at the beginning of April.

The deal to share the vaccine, which is still being finalized, does not affect Biden’s plans to have vaccine available for all adults in the United States by the end of May, the official said. It does not reduce the supply of available vaccine in the United States.

The deal is likely to be announced publicly in the coming days.

Two officials said the vaccine would be delivered in “short order” once the deal was completed, but they declined to give a more specific timetable.

The “releasable” vaccines are ready to be used once they arrive. Under the deal, the United States will share doses with Mexico and Canada now with the understanding that they will pay the United States back with doses in return. The official said that would take place later this year.

The United States had no plans to share the vaccine with other countries at this time, the official said.

“They are our neighbors, they are our partners,” the official said about Mexico and Canada. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had requested the vaccine previously. The official said the countries were in touch about the vaccine loan. “We’ve been working through the diplomatic channels,” he said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. All reporting by Reuters’ Jeff Mason and AP’s Zeke Miller.

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