The United States is planning to ship its inventory of AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries since it has received 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and BioNTech-Pfizer sufficient for vaccinating the country’s entire population. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are made with the mRNA technology, which gives protection without the risk of serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19. AstraZeneca makes viral vector vaccines, which is the modified version of a different virus. Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN uses a sample of the dead coronavirus. Both AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotec vaccines are cheaper to handle compared to the vaccines by Moderna and BioNTech-Pfizer, which are more superior due to being non-infectious, non-integrating, naturally degrading and are egg and cell free. mRNA vaccine production is rapid and scalable. It stimulates innate immune response with induction of T and B cell immune response.
The US plans to export up to 60 million doses of the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca and Oxford University to needy countries, the White House said on Monday. AstraZeneca was a backup option for the US.
Jen Psaki, the spokeswoman for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said that around 10 million doses could be exported as early as in the coming weeks after a review and another 50 million doses are still in different stages of production and will be exported in the coming months. The US has previously loaned 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada.
It is not clear if the vaccines will be sold, loaned or donated. India may be one of the largest recipients of these vaccines, although the US has received requests from Mexico and Canada. The United States will consider sending surplus AstraZeneca vaccines to India said the top US pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci said Sunday. The US is already sending COVID-19 related aid to India after India grossly mismanaged the situation leading to repeated highest single-day spikes in COVID-19 cases in the world. India also fell into the trap of nationalistic views by limiting approval to Indian made vacccines and shipping out vaccines in the name of vaccine diplamacy dubbed as the Vaccine Maitri (Vaccine Friendship) initiative.
Some European countries have suspended the use of AstraZeneca vaccine completely or partially as a precautionary measure following reports of blood clots, although no connection has been proven. The European Union has also threatened AstraZeneca and others of the export ban they don’t meet the deliveries to the countries which are willing to use the vaccine.