The White House announced Monday America would share up to 60 million AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine doses with other nations because of growing pressure for it to lead the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The pledge came as President Joe Biden spoke with Indian PM Narendra Modi, which is reportedly running out of coronavirus jabs just as a deadly second wave continues to devastate the country.
Officials said the AstraZeneca vaccine, which isn’t yet approved for use in America by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), would be shipped out once it clears federal safety reviews.
The hospitals across the Indian capital, Delhi, continued to issue ‘SOS’ calls over acute oxygen shortfalls, with 8 patients dying in private hospitals Sunday (April 25) when oxygen supplies ran dry. Many of the biggest hospitals in Delhi stated they had stopped admitting new COVID-19 patients as all beds were full, and the oxygen supply was running out.
In contrast, Delhi’s Ganga Ram hospital stated it was in ‘beg and borrow mode’ for oxygen cylinders utilized in its ambulances.
The United States has committed to sending India COVID testing kits, ventilators, oxygen systems, therapeutic drugs, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
The United States President tweeted that Joe Biden promised the US’s full support to provide emergency aid and resources in the fight against coronavirus. Moreover, India was there for them, and they will be there for them in the time of need.
The United States has immunized over 53 percent of its adult population with at least one dose of its three authorized vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer, and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, and it expects to have enough supply for its whole population by early summer.
The WHO Director-General marked the recent surge as beyond heartbreaking
This has fueled demands for it to step up and help the rest of the world, especially as Russia and China’s aggressive global donations led to concerns that they are beating Washington DC at ‘vaccine diplomacy.’
The White House announced it would distribute the AstraZeneca shots overseas as production allows. The White House senior coronavirus adviser, Andy Slavitt, posted on Twitter that America to release 60M AstraZeneca jabs to other nations as they become available.
Much of the United States effort over 2020 has been focused inwards, but the crisis in India has concentrated minds. The deadly virus is ripping through a population of nearly 1.4B, with the health care system on the brink of collapse.
India set another record on April 26 for new COVID-19 infections. A fifth consecutive day at over 350000. Moreover, it reported running out of COVID vaccines, and many hospitals in the country are desperately low on oxygen supplies. The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, marked the recent surge as beyond heartbreaking.
Everyone in India over 18-years would be eligible for a jab from April 24, a decision made by the administration as the coronavirus has brought India’s healthcare system to its knees, with over 352000 new COVID cases on April 26 and over 2800 more deaths.
High hopes have been placed on an expanded COVID-19 vaccine rollout to help stop the virus spread. However, in several of the worst-affected states, including Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand, state administrations have stated there is already a shortage or complete lack of doses. They had been unable to order further, throwing doubt on any expansion of COVID vaccine rollout by May 1, when about 900M more people would become eligible.
India recorded 89% increase in COVID-related fatalities
Almost 10 percent of India’s 1.4B population have received one vaccine. Just over one percent have received both vaccines.
In the week to 25th April, India recorded a cumulative 89 percent increase in coronavirus-related deaths compared with the recent week and a total of 2.2M new coronavirus cases, the highest 7-day increase experienced anywhere globally. And total confirmed virus infections have now passed 17 million.
Most of the onus to deliver the COVID vaccines has fallen on India’s largest vaccine producer, Serum Institute (SII), which produces the Oxford-Uni/AstraZeneca vaccine in India known as Covishield.
However, it has been struggling to meet vaccine demand, with the capacity at present to make only 70 million doses in a month. The administration approved last week a $400 million grant to the drug company to boost production to 100 million shots a month by the end of May 2021.
The grim picture is thrown into sharp relief by the speedy immunization progress of wealthier nations such as the U.K., Israel, and the United States.
The AstraZeneca COVID vaccine is widely in use worldwide but hasn’t yet been authorized by the FDA in America. The United States’ decision to distribute the AstraZeneca jab abroad was made easier because it doesn’t need the shots domestically.
Jen Psaki explains sending COVID-19 vaccines to India will take longer
On a conference call, a senior White House official told reporters, given the substantial portfolio of COVID vaccines that America already has and that has been approved by the FDA. Given that the AstraZeneca shot isn’t authorized for use in America, they don’t need to use the AstraZeneca’s jab here during the following few months.
Moreover, official added America is looking at options to share the AstraZeneca shots with other nations as they become available.
The official said that before any AstraZeneca vaccines can be dispatched, they must meet the US FDA’s expectations for product quality.
The White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, said at a briefing that they are continuing to look for a range of options to assist India, so they’re talking about what they can redirect, what is available then. A lot of what India needs at this moment is oxygen supply. America is entirely focused on that, as well as PPE, COVID-19 testing, and other immediate needs.
Psaki explained that sending COVID vaccines to India will take longer.
She said that right now, they have zero COVID doses available at AstraZeneca. They’re talking about what the United States FDA needs to go through, a review to ensure safety, and it’s meeting their guidelines.
Jen Psaki stated nearly 10 million shots could be released when the FDA grants authorization but cautioned that this wouldn’t be immediate.
The White House Press Secretary added America had been one of the largest providers of aid to address the coronavirus pandemic worldwide, including India when asked about criticism that America’s response is coming late.